Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard was appointed Parliamentary Secretary of Civil Liberties on Dec. 13 without any announcement from the provincial government.
The appointment comes nearly two months after the rest of the cabinet — which is stacked with roughly half of the province’s UCP MLAs — was sworn in back in October, shortly after the Premier officially took office.
Premier Danielle Smith spoke of Allard’s new position for the first time on 630 CHED’s Your Province, Your Premier on Saturday morning, saying Allard’s appointment was to protect civil liberties, including free speech on campus, property rights, and the federal laws on gun ownership and online news.
“There’s a whole range of things that came up in this fall session and it seemed to me having a Parliamentary Secretary focused on property and civil rights would allow for her to give us some advice on how we might be able to address these in legislation,” Smith said.
“And as we go forward, if there are bills that we’re passing, just having somebody with the lens of saying, is this making sure that we’re protecting all of the rights that are protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Political scientist Duane Bratt said the protection of unvaccinated rights is also on the list.
“It’s a strange position,” he said. “I’m not sure what the purpose of this is.”
Free speech and protection of the unvaccinated were included in ministerial mandate letters when Smith made her cabinet appointments.
And then there is the question of why Tracy Allard was chosen for the job, Bratt said. Two years ago, Allard lost her post as the municipal affairs minister (under the provincial leadership of former premier Jason Kenney) after she travelled to Hawaii and bypassed all COVID regulations.
“We’re in a situation where poll after poll shows that the most important things that are facing Albertans is affordability and health care, but the things that animate Smith the most are the sovereignty act, fighting Ottawa and re-litigating COVID restrictions. And this appointment just ties perfectly into that narrative.”