PROFILES: Who’s Danielle Smith’s newly appointed cabinet members?
By Mikaela Delos Santos, Publishing Editor
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s newly appointed cabinet members were sworn in last friday, June 9.
The cabinet consists of 25 members— mostly consisting of Calgary MLA’s, dominating nine out of the 25. There are no Edmonton MLA’s in the new cabinet, with an exception for Nate Glubish, MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park. Smith’s group is also male dominated, consisting of five women (including Smith) and 20 men.
Here’s a profile breakdown of the new cabinet members and their portfolios.
Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Relations – Danielle Smith
Smith is Alberta’s 19th Premier, succeeding Jason Kenney back in October 2022 after his resignation from the United Conservative Party of Alberta. Currently, Smith also represents Brooks-Medicine Hat as an MLA. She also was the opposition leader of the WildRose party a decade ago. Before coming into politics, Smith was a host for 770 CHQR, a local radio station in Calgary.
Coming in as Premier, Smith was the subject of Alberta headlines after making a comment that “…[the unvaccinated] are the most discriminated-against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. That’s a pretty extreme level of discrimination I’ve ever seen.” in her first press conference after being sworn in. Due to public reactions, Smith sent out an apology via Twitter.
Smith is also known for heading the Alberta Sovereignty act which was passed back in December 2022.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services – Mike Ellis
Ellis is the MLA representative for Calgary-West for the past four terms since 2014. Before coming in to provincial politics, Ellis was a police sergeant for the Calgary Police Service (CPS). Upon Smith’s victory as the UCP leader preceding Jason Kenney, Ellis was appointed in his role of Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services. Ellis is also a part of the Calgary Public Safety and Community Response Task Force.
Minister of Advanced Education – Rajan Sawhney
Sawhney is one out of the five women a part of Smith’s new cabinet. The Calgary-North West MLA has been a Minister of various departments since the Kenney administration and has been shuffled around since then. Before being appointed as the Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism back in 2022 and as the current Minister of Advanced Education under Smith, Sawhney held the roles of Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister of Transportation under Kenney. Sawnhey also ran for the 2022 UCP leadership election but came in sixth.
Before her political career, Sawhney has been in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years, working with companies such as the Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), Norcen Energy, Vermillion Energy, Union Pacific, and the Alberta Energy Regulator.
Minister of Affordability and Utilities and Vice-chair of Treasury Board – Nathan Neudorf
Neudorf is the current MLA representative for Lethbridge-East. Previously, Neudorf serves as the Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure.
Before serving in Alberta politics, Neudorf is a certified red seal journeyman carpenter with a civil and structural engineering diploma. His trades background has led him to leadership roles within the Lethbridge Construction Association, Alberta Construction Association, Alberta Construction Safety Association, and Worker’s Compensation Board.
Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation – RJ Sigurdson
The current MLA for Highwood new to the political world of Alberta— asumming office as the Highwood MLA back in April 2019.
Before coming in to politics, Rigurdson worked in the rigs back in the ‘90s and have progressed to be a project manager, general manager, and shareholder for a mechanical construction company. Sigurdson is also a member of Shriner’s International.
Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women – Tanya Fir
One-fifth of the women in the cabinet, Fir is the current MLA representative for Calgary-Peigan. Fir is not new to cabinet roles as she was the previous Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, and the Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction under Kenney.
Prior to politics, Fir worked with the CNRL as a Human Resources advisor.
Minister of Children and Family Services – Searle Turton
Turton is the current Spruce Grove-Stony Plain MLA who has been serving the city of Spruce Grove as a city councillor for three terms. He also served as the director of Spruce Grove public library board, chairman of the TransAlta Tri Leisure Centre, and a trustee for the Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers, Local 1325.
Before his political career, Turton worked for Ricoh Canada and as a dual-ticket construction tradesman.
Minister of Education – Demetrios Nicolaides
Nicolaides is another Calgary MLA representing Calgary-Bow since 2019. Before being shuffled into his current role, Nicolaides was the Minister of Advanced Education under the Kenney term.
Before coming into politics, Nicolaides worked for a consulting firm working closely with Alberta’s energy sectors.
Minister of Energy and Minerals – Brian Jean
The Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA representative is a familiar figure in provincial and federal politics. Having been in the scene since 2004, Jean started his political career as a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Fort McMurray-Athabasca for ten years. After resigning from the House of Commons, Jean entered provincial politics where he lost against Jason Kenney during the 2017 UCP leadership election. Jean ran again in the 2022 UCP leadership race.
In 2018, Jean took a break from politics after losing his home during the 2016 wildfires, as well as losing his son, mother, and sister. Before coming into politics, Jean was a lawyer and businessman back in Fort McMurray.
Minister of Environment and Protected Areas – Rebecca Schulz
Schulz is one out of the five women in the current cabinet. The MLA for Calgary-Shaw previously worked as the Minister of Children’s Services under Kenney’s leadership. Schulz also ran in the 2022 UCP leadership race where she placed fourth.
Schulz was a communications professional prior to politics.
Ministry of Forestry and Parks – Todd Loewen
Before being sworn in as the Minister of Forestry and Parks, Loewen was the Minister of Forestry, Parks and Tourism. Loewen is also the current MLA of Central Peace-Notley. Prior to politics, Loewen worked on a farm and owned a business.
Minister of Health – Adriana LaGrange
LaGrange is one of the five women in Smith’s male dominated cabinet. Before being appointed the role of Minister of Health, LaGrange was the Minister of Education under the Kenney cabinet. LaGrange is also the current MLA for Red Deer-North, alongside owning a family farm and a trucking company.
LaGrange is active and has background in various school boards, having been elected as a school board trustee with Red Deer Regional Catholic School Division for over 11 years, elected as provincial president of Alberta Catholic Schools Trustee Association, and national vice president of Canadian Catholic Schools Trustee Association.
Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism – Muhammad Yaseen
Yaseen is the current MLA for Calgary-North. Before his current role in Smith’s cabinet, Yaseen previously served as the Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism. Yaseen is also new to politics, having served his first political role as the Calgary-North MLA back in 2019.
Before his political career, Yaseen served 40 years as a professional in the oil industry working with Imperial Oil. He also served in committees such as Resource Stewardship, Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, Public Accounts, Family and Community, and Legislative Offices.
Minister of Indigenous Relations – Rick Wilson
The Wetaskiwin-Maskwacis MLA is another politician new to the provincial scene— Wilson has held the position of Minister of Indigenous Relations since 2019 during Kenney’s term.
Before coming into politics, Wilson was a County Councillor for Wetaskiwin for 15 years. He also was the Chairman of Crossroads Regional Health Authority for seven years, a member of the Western Canadian Agriculture Debt Review Board for six years, and five years as the School Board Trustee with Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools. Wilson is also a business owner and farmer.
Minister of Infrastructure – Pete Guthrie
Guthrie has been the MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane since 2019 and is also new to the political scene. Before being shuffled into his current role, Guthrie was the Minister of Energy when Smith came into her leadership role in 2022.
Before his political career, Guthrie owned a Mr. Lube franchise and was co-owner of the Dumaresq Bros. Ranch. He also worked as a professional engineer before owning the previously mentioned businesses.
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade – Matt Jones
Jones is the current MLA for Calgary-South East who has previously served as the Minister of Children’s Services under Kenney and the Minister of Affordability and Utilities under Smith. Jones also provided financial oversight for Alberta’s Treasury Board and Heritage Savings Trust Fund committees.
Before coming into politics, Jone was an investment banker.
Minister of Justice – Mickey Amery
After Jones, Amery served as the Minister of Children’s Services when Smith came into leadership after the 2022 UCP leadership race. Amery is the current Calgary-Cross MLA, a position he held since 2019. Amery also served as the director of Learning Disability Association of Alberta and is active in various local community boards.
Before serving Alberta politics, Amery was a practicing lawyer and business owner.
Minister of Mental Health and Addiction – Dan Williams
Williams is another person new to the political scene— Williams is the MLA for Peace River since 2019 and was re-elected in May 2023. Williams caused a stir back in March 2023 for chugging beer inside the Alberta legislature as a tribute for the Royal Canadian Legion.
Before politics, Williams worked as a tradesman.
Minister of Municipal Affairs – Ric McIver
McIver has been in the political scene since 2012, serving as the MLA for Calgary-Hays until present. Previously, he served as the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, and Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Before politics, McIver served 3 terms in the Calgary City Council. He was also on various committees such as the Police Commission, a Chair of the Calgary Housing Company, and a volunteer for Calgary Stampede.
Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services – Jason Nixon
Nixon is the current MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, representing the riding since 2015. Under Kenney, Nixon served as the Minister of Environment and Parks, and President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance before being appointed to his current role under Smith.
Nixon was an entrepreneur and the Executive Director of the Mustard Seed before coming into politics.
Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction – Dale Nally
Nally has been re-appointed once again to his role as the Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction. Previously under Kenney, Nally was the Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity. Currently, Nally is the MLA of St. Albert-Morinville.
Prior to serving in the Alberta legislature, Nally worked in the private sector, managing businesses that generated between $50 million and $80 million.
Minister of Technology and Innovation – Nate Glubish
Glubish is the current MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park since 2019. Under Kenney, Glubish worked as the Minister of Service Alberta. Before coming into provincial politics, Glubish worked in several investment firms, mostly in the Alberta technology industry.
Minister of Tourism and Sport – Joseph Schow
Before coming into his current role, Schow served as the House Leader or a Minister without portfolio. He is also the MLA for Cardstron-Siksika. Before becoming an elected official, Schow was a legislative coordinator with the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and as a parliamentary assistant with the House of Commons of Canada. He also owned a small business and worked in advertising.
Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors – Devin Dreeshen
Dreeshen is the current MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, having been first elected in 2018 during a by-election. Previously, Dreeshen was the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry under Kenney. Dreeshen has also worked with Donald Trump to which he wrote about on The Hill Times. According to Mountain View Today, Dreeshen mentions that his trip down in the U.S was a learning experience to see how the American process worked.
Before his work in politics, Dresheen worked as a policy advisor to Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture under the Harper government.
President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance – Nate Horner
Horner is the current MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, having been first elected in 2019. Previously, Horner was the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development under Kenney and Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation under Smith before being shuffled into his current role.
Before serving Alberta politics, Horner was a rancher and a volunteer for various organizations.