Alberta’s new Agriculture Minister is Jack Hayden, an Endiang-area farmer, who was elected MLA for Drumheller-Stettler in 2007. Hayden, formerly minister of infrastructure, was not appointed to the powerful Agenda and Priorities Committee that sets government legislative direction, but was appointed to the Treasury Board which oversees government spending. His rural experience includes being a former chair of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and counties.
Hayden succeeds George Groeneveld, who was not reappointed to cabinet. His recent tenure as agriculture minister was marked by frosty relations with producer groups, especially cattle, pork, sheep and potato organizations which had their funding reduced when the government made previously compulsory checkoffs refundable.
In a Calgary Herald story, ex-minister Groeneveld said that he has yet to receive an explanation from the premier as to why he was dropped from cabinet, and expressed concern about the lack of cabinet representation for southern Alberta.
PC constituency association president Wendy Adam said the demotion was a surprise and Groeneveld was a good voice for southern Alberta. “This has just handed this constituency to the Wildrose Alliance,” Adam said.
Groeneveld has said that he doesn’t plan to follow the example of two MLAs who have jumped to the Wildrose Alliance, but has not decided whether he will run again in the Highwood constituency in the next election.