EDMONTON — It’s the first real day on the job for Alberta premier-designate Alison Redford.
Progressive Conservative members — most who did not support her come-from-behind leadership bid last weekend — gave Redford a standing ovation when she walked into her first caucus meeting Tuesday morning in Edmonton.
She promptly named one of her rivals in the Tory leadership race as her Number 2. Third-place finisher Doug Horner will serve as deputy premier, the post he held under outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach.
“I think a lot of people wondered what caucus was going to be like today, including me,” Redford told reporters.
“It was fantastic. We had a great time. This is a government that’s ready to govern. It’s a party that’s ready to lead.”
The former justice minister has said she will move quickly to put her own stamp on the government and expects there will be new faces when she names her cabinet on Oct. 12.
She is to be officially sworn in as premier on Friday.
None of her colleagues in Stelmach’s cabinet endorsed her in the leadership race. Redford has said she reached out to the other candidates after her victory, but didn’t indicate if she will offer them cabinet jobs.
Redford also found herself under fire from opposition politicians for initially suggesting that the legislature would not sit in the fall. She changed her mind Tuesday, announcing there will be a fall session starting Oct. 24.
“I wanted to ensure that I had the advice of caucus and that we were ready to go with setting that new agenda,” she explained.
Horner said putting the leadership battle aside can be a challenge, but it’s necessary for the good of the party.
“We’re all adults,” Horner said. “We all have to be team players, and I think everybody joins this business with that in mind.”
Redford also announced that Education Minister Dave Hancock, who backed front-runner Gary Mar for party leader, will remain government house leader.
Hancock said he’s not concerned about possibly losing his cabinet post even though Redford campaigned on a key promise to rescind cuts to public education.
She has said she may have to dip into Alberta’s sustainability fund to restore the $107 million cut from the education budget, a decision that forced school boards to fire teachers and hike class sizes.
“What will be will be. We’re all part of a team,” Hancock said.
“You don’t come into this as a cabinet minister, you come in as an MLA. The premier has a really tough job of putting together a cabinet. She’s got to choose what kind of face she wants to put on the government, the direction she wants to take. The rest of us work with it.”
Redford, a 46-year-old married mother of a nine-year-old, will be the province’s first female premier.