Alta.’s United Conservative Party names ag critic

The new leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, Jason Kenney, has wasted no time since winning the job Oct. 28 with 61 percent of the membership vote Oct. 28.

Kenney today announced the list of critics “who will hold the Notley NDP government to account, and stand up for Albertans under attack from the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa,” the UCP said in a news release.

Rick Strankman, a farmer and MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, has been appointed agriculture critic. He was initially elected as a member of the Wildrose Party, which merged with the provincial Progressive Conservative party earlier this year. He was re-elected in 2015.

Strankman has been an outspoken critic of Rachel Notley’s NDP government and has weighed in on NDP policies regarding property rights and farm safety legislation, among other issues.

The Altario, Alta., farmer was one of several who were jailed in 2002 for illegally selling wheat in the United States outside of the Canadian Wheat Board. Long a critic of the CWB, Strankman served one week of a 180-day sentence for selling 756 bushels across the line. He and other protesters were later pardoned.

Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, was named finance and treasury board critic. Wayne Drysdale, Grande Prairie-Wapiti, will handle transportation critic duties, Richard Gotfried of Calgary-Fish Creek handles economic development, trade and jobs, and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier is the municipal affairs critic. Wes Taylor, Battle River-Wainwright, will handle property and surface rights.

Kenney named only two women to the 23-member critics list: Leela Aheer (Chestermere-Rocky View) is the critic for children’s services and status of women and she is also deputy leader. Angela Pitt (Airdrie) is deputy house leader and justice critic.

Calgary-Hays MLA Rick McIver is chief whip and Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon is opposition house leader.

Kenney announced plans Oct. 29 to seek a legislative seat in Calgary-Lougheed now held by UCP MLA Dave Rodney, who said he intends to retire.

Kenney defeated rivals Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer on the first ballot of the leadership vote, earning 61 percent of the votes to Jean’s 31.5 and Schweitzer’s 7.3 percent.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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