Redford Shuffles Minister Deck

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Premier Alison Redford has appointed Evan Berger, MLA for Livingstone-MacLeod, as the new minister of agriculture and rural development.

Berger replaces Jack Hayden who has been appointed the new minister of tourism, parks and recreation. Berger will be the fifth Alberta minister of agriculture in the last eight years.

Berger was first elected to the legislature in 2008 and has served on a number of standing committees including resources and environment. He previously served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of sustainable resource development. Prior to serving in the legislature, Berger served as a member of council in the municipal district of Willow Creek, nine years as reeve and six as chair of the municipal planning commission. He also served on the agricultural service board. Berger and his family have a ranching operation in the Nanton area.

Longtime MLA for Little Bow, Barry McFarland, has been appointed parliamentary assistant to Minister of Agriculture Berger. First elected in 1992, McFarland has served on a number of standing committees including agriculture of which he was chairman. McFarland and his family have a grain operation in the Carmangay area.

In other rural-related announcements the premier appointed Diana McQueen, MLA for Drayton Valley-Calmar, as minister of the environment and water. Doug Griffiths, MLA for Battle River-Wainwright was appointed minister of municipal affairs (Griffiths was a former parliamentary assistant for rural development). Frank Oberle, MLA for Peace River, was appointed minister of sustainable resource development.

In the recent PC party leadership campaign, of all the candidates, Premier Redford had the only specific agriculture policy as part of her official platform. The newly appointed cabinet is expected to be transitionary as Premier Redford has indicated that she plans to call for a provincial election in the spring of 2012.

Premier Redford has also shuffled a number of deputy ministers between departments. However John Knapp, assistant deputy minister for Alberta agriculture is retaining his position.

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