EDMONTON — Former finance minister Doug Horner will serve as Premier Jim Prentice’s point-man on voicing Alberta’s issues with the federal government as current representative Alan Ross resigns his post in Ottawa.
While the Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA was not invited into Prentice’s cabinet and West Yellowhead MLA Robin Campbell was instead named as Alberta’s new finance minister, Prentice said Tuesday that Horner is needed as a senior advisor on internal trade and intergovernmental relations to sway the federal government on important issues.
“We have some very significant issues going on in an intergovernmental sense, whether you talk about the national (securities) regulator or whether you talk about the entire discussion that’s taking place on temporary foreign workers and what we need to do in partnership with the national government,” Prentice said.
“I felt that an able set of hands working as an advisor to me would be warranted and Doug graciously agreed to do that and we’re both excited about pressing forward.”
Horner, along with the four other MLAs named as legislative secretaries, will not collect additional compensation for the role, Prentice said. It is unclear how Horner’s job differs from Red Deer-South MLA Cal Dallas’ new job as legislative secretary for intergovernmental relations.
When asked why Alberta needs both Horner and an official advocacy office in Ottawa, Prentice replied “stay tuned.”
Calgary lawyer Alan Ross, who specialized in energy infrastructure in his legal practice, was appointed to Ottawa by former premier Redford in February 2013 but tendered his resignation Aug. 27.
The government said Ross will continue working to build relationships in Ottawa to Oct. 31 unless the position is filled sooner. He received $360,414 in total compensation in 2013-14. He departs with no severance, moving allowance or other financial support.
Thomas Lukaszuk said he’s not surprised to be excluded from Prentice’s smaller, “more conservative” cabinet.
The former deputy premier and labour minister, who ran against Prentice for the Tory leadership, was one of several high-profile ministers demoted to the backbench when the new boss took over on Monday.
“I had a strong suspicion that this was going to happen,” Lukaszuk said.
“Premier Prentice put together a cabinet that is definitely significantly more conservative than my worldview is. It’s very much focused on export of bitumen through the West Coast, as you can see by the makeup of cabinet.”
Other ousted cabinet members include former health minister Fred Horne and former municipal affairs and service Alberta minister Doug Griffiths.
Lukaszuk said he never met Prentice before the leadership race and has not had the chance to get to know him yet, but that the cabinet shuffle does not change his feelings about the PC Party.
“I have been a very active member of this party probably longer than anybody who is in cabinet right now,” Lukaszuk said.
“So my commitment to the PC Party runs very deep, and I will find myself a role that I feel comfortable with.”
— With files from Kevin Maimann