Bill passed to give Alberta's cabinet ministers permanent 'honourable' designation
The Alberta government has passed a new bill that will add a permanent "honourable" title to all former, current and future cabinet ministers' names.
In February, Premier Jason Kenney introduced Bill 1, also known as the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Recognition Act. That bill, which received royal assent in the legislature this week, was put in place to recognize the Queen's 70 years on the throne.
According to the premier, it seeks to recognize the contributions of Alberta's young people through special awards, scholarships and a special Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.
It also adds in a new title and initials to anyone who has served or who will serve on the Executive Council of Alberta, commonly known as the provincial cabinet.
All cabinet ministers, the bill says, "may use the honorific 'The Honourable' before the member’s name and the initials 'E.C.A.' after the member’s name," even after they're done their term.
Provincial cabinet ministers previously lost their "honourable" title after leaving office.
The bill says it "is but a small gesture of recognition for the role they have played in shaping Alberta, no matter which party they have served under. It comes with no financial benefit or authority; it is simply an honour of recognition. However, it does align with the spirit of celebrating public service."
One NDP MLA took exception to the bill during a debate in the legislature last week.
"It really sounds like the government caucus is more interested in sort of pumping their own tires and giving themselves pats on the back, which is not really the mood of a lot of Albertans right now," Edmonton-Whitemud NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi said.
"I certainly don’t hear my constituents saying, 'I really hope that the current members of this cabinet get to call themselves honorary for forever going forward.' That’s certainly not something that anybody has raised to me as their top priority."
UCPer Jason Nixon denies the move was motivated by vanity.
"This is a recognition of those who have served not just currently, but throughout the 100-and-some-year history of our legislature," he told CTV News. "We wanted to use that legislation to recognize lots of Albertans from all walks of life, and one of them was to recognize Albertans who have taken the time and dedicated certain portions of their lives to serve."
NDP MLA Christina Gray argues there are better ways to spend legislative time.
"It's a vanity title project that Albertans didn't ask for," she said Thursday. "And I can only assume that was motivated by current UCP cabinet ministers wanting to hang on to a fancy title."
Nixon points out the bill "did not take up a significant amount of legislative time."
Nova Scotia passed similar legislation in 2009 and Saskatchewan followed suit a decade later.
Previously, the permanent "honourable" title had been reserved for the premier, some judges, senators and members of the House of Commons who also belonged to the Canadian Privy Council.
Federally, the title "the Right Honourable" applies for life to the governor general, prime minister and chief justice of Canada.
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