There was excitement in the air during the recent Premier’s dinner in Red Deer, as newly-minted leader Alison Redford outlined her vision and plans for the province.
Indeed, it’s a new era for the party in many ways. Redford will no doubt bring her own unique leadership style to the province, and has already brought about significant change – one example being the prompt reversal of the cutting of millions in funding to education in Alberta.
During her recent talk, she also connected with the audience right off the bat, pointing out that she was first elected to an ‘official office’ in Red Deer back in 1983 when she was elected president of PC Youth of Alberta.
The dinner also marked a turning point for Red Deer’s two MLAs – one appointed to cabinet while the other finishing her role among that select group.
Red Deer south MLA Cal Dallas has been appointed Minister of Intergovernmental, International and Aboriginal Relations. Dallas, who was first elected in 2008, is ready for the role after his already extensive work in government. Prior to this role, he served as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance and Enterprise and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Environment.
Dallas also serves as a member of the Treasury Board and the Cabinet Policy Committee on Energy, the Public Accounts Committee, the Regulatory Review Secretariat, the Standing Committee on the Economy and the Standing Committee on Private Bills among others.
On the departure side, Mary Anne Jablonski, who was elected to her fourth term as MLA in 2008, was removed from her post as Minister of Seniors and Community Supports.
For all of her work in this regard and in the bigger picture, she should be congratulated. Jablonski has worked hard on a number of fronts over the years including serving on committees ranging from the Alberta Mental Health Board Liaison and Advisory Committee and the Corrections Review Committee to the Committee on Collaboration and Innovation and the Crystal Meth Task Force Committee.
Meanwhile, Redford herself is nothing if not strongly focused. But she knows what to bring into the conversation. During the dinner she talked about things near and dear to the hearts of Albertans – health and education, the economy, the improvement of public services and the importance of guarding the well-being of families. She spoke about establishing policies that help families cope in an “increasingly complex society” that demands more of everyone.
Her past international experiences have also influenced her political view; she emphasized both global thinking and global connecting as keys to Alberta’s future success.
Ultimately, Redford appears to be reaching out to those who didn’t support her initially while polishing up the Tories’ image, keeping the party faithful happy and resolutely setting out on her own path.