Alberta Cabinet Shuffle: Ted Morton is the Man
I'll have more analysis later tonight, but the biggest headline grabber in Ed Stelmach's cabinet shuffle is the move of Ted Morton to Finance.
You probably don't need me to point this one out, since every pundit will, but this seems like an obvious move to shore up on Ed's right flank, with the Wild Rose breathing down his neck.
UPDATE: One commenter remarks that Morton's influence may be dampened, since Treasury Board (still Snelgrove) makes a lot of the big decisions. True, but this is all about optics, not reality. And the optics of this are that Morton is the man. That's important when it comes to cutting off the Wild Rose on the right.
And I tend to think it's also important when it comes to Stelmach holding on to his leadership. Morton is the heir apparent right now, and puting him in Finance staples him to Stelmach. Sure, disgruntled PCs will complain about Stelmach's financial mismanagement, but how do you replace him with a guy who's going to bring in a monstrous deficit this year?
As for the other moves, there aren't a ton of surprises. Liepert was hurting in Health, so he had to go. A pair of Stelmach loyalists - George Groeneveld and Fred Lindsay - get punted. I presume the thinking is that anyone else kicked out of Cabinet would just keep on walking over to Danielle Smith's welcoming arms.
Three youngsters join Cabinet, to try and stave off accusations that it's an old and tired government - Jonathan Denis from Calgary, Thomas Lukaszuk from Edmonton, and Frank Oberle from Peace River. Lukaszuk, the oldest of the bunch, was 2 when the PCs first came to power in Alberta in 1971. Denis is a good addition - he's young, he's talented, and he's far more capable of holding down a Cabinet spot than a lowly bus driver - he'll do well in housing.
So there weren't a ton of surprises - Stelmach did what he had to do and, by and large, I tend to think these moves will help him in 2010. Whether it's enough to stop the bleeding remains to be seen.