Premier Jason Kenney was officially sworn in today to lead the Alberta government, appointing new cabinet ministers to oversee important files.
Kenney appointed Devin Dreeshen, United Conservative Party MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, to take on the agriculture ministry.
Dreeshen farms in the region and previously worked as a policy adviser to former federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz from 2008-15.
His father, Earl Dreeshen, is a Conservative MP for the riding of Red Deer-Mountain View.
The new cabinet ministers didn’t speak with reporters today, but Kenney said the top issue facing agriculture is the Chinese restriction of canola imports.
He said while there isn’t a great deal the province can do to resolve the issue, Alberta will do whatever it can to support farmers.
“They’ve (farmers) spent tens of hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in seeding before the Chinese embargo,” he said.
Alberta will also work to improve market access for agriculture products, he added, pointing to India’s tariffs on pulses as a current barrier.
“It will include stepping up the pressure on the Government of India to withdraw its unfair tariffs on Alberta pulse and lentil exports,” he said.
Along with being premier, Kenney will take on the role of intergovernmental affairs.
Other new ministers important to agriculture include:
– Jason Nixon, minister of environment and parks. He will oversee grazing lease issues, as well as public lands where outdoor enthusiasts, ranchers and industrial businesses often collide.
– Sonya Savage, minister of energy, who will deal with the abandoned oil well file.
– Tanya Fir, minister of economic development and trade, who will work to improve market access for agriculture products overseas.
– Kaycee Madu, minister of municipal affairs, who will frequently consult with rural municipalities about various issues.
– Ric McIver, minister of transportation, who will deal with trucker training rules that might affect farmers.
On the abandoned oil file, Kenney said his government and the Government of Saskatchewan will be approaching the federal government on a jobs plan for remediating abandoned wells.
He said the clean-up plan would help put people back to work while also helping restore the environment.
The rest of Kenney’s new cabinet include:
- Travis Toews, minister of finance, who was formerly the president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
- Doug Schweitzer, minister of justice and solicitor general.
- Adriana LaGrange, minister of education.
- Tyler Shandro, minister of health.
- Rajan Sawhney, minister of community and social services.
- Josephine Pon, minister of seniors and housing.
- Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services.
- Rick Wilson, minister of Indigenous relations.
- Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education.
- Leela Aheer, minister of culture and multiculturalism, status of women.
- Jason Copping, minister of labour and immigration.
- Prasad Panda, minister of infrastructure.
- Nate Globes, minister of Service Alberta.
- Grant Hunter, associate minister of red tape reduction.
- Dale Nally, associate minister of natural gas.
- Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions.