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Premier Danielle Smith tasked with choosing new cabinet after losing several senior MLAs

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Danielle Smith is now facing her first big test as Alberta's returning premier — picking a new cabinet after losing several senior MLAs.

"You're going to see a very different cabinet," said Duane Bratt, political scientist at Mount Royal University.

Six cabinet ministers, including Health Minister Jason Copping, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and Deputy Premier Kaycee Madu, were not re-elected.

Mental Health and Addiction Minister Nicholas Milliken, Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon and Culture Minister Jason Luan also lost their seats.

Bratt wonders whether this caucus has the bench strength.

"Who is going to be able to stand up to Smith as justice minister? How many lawyers are left in the caucus? A lot of them are gone. Did they bring some new ones?" he asked.

"Or do they feel that the backbencher who spent four years, you know, maybe as a parliamentary secretary or a committee chair can now step up to be a minister?"

Bratt predicts Smith will keep a few familiar faces from her previous cabinet, including Rebecca Schulz, who served as municipal affairs minister, Mike Ellis, who served as public safety and emergency services minister, Rajan Sawhney, who served as trade, immigration and multiculturalism minister, and Adriana LaGrange, who served as education minister.

He also expects Smith to keep Dale Nally, MLA-elect for Morinville-St. Albert, and Nate Glubish, MLA-elect for Strathcona-Sherwood Park, as they both represent ridings near Edmonton, which now has no United Conservative Party MLAs.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says he will work to ensure his city isn't forgotten.

"This is an opportunity for the premier to reset that relationship and really look into why many Edmontonians remain dissatisfied with the provincial government," he said.

The UCP also lost a few seats in Calgary, which could mean a heavy rural cabinet.

"I know the rural caucus was upset after 2019, that they felt they were underrepresented. Now, they're going to be disproportionately represented," Bratt said, noting that 37 of the 49 UCP seats are outside the big cities.

There are 10 new UCP MLAs who could be tapped to join cabinet.

Bratt says Smith could also bring back Ric McIver, who she removed from cabinet, "because he's an old Calgary hand and with government experience."

Equal Voice, an organization dedicated to promoting women's representation in Canadian politics, says it's happy to see the number of women represented in the legislature increase from 31 to nearly 37 per cent in this election.

It wants to see that reflected in Smith's cabinet.

"I think it's always important to try and have a reflection of the community that you're serving," said Chi Nguyen, executive director of Equal Voice.

"The different diversity of experience, lived opinions, those pieces are all important in the mix of making sure that the cabinet table can reflect the wisdom that's needed to govern."

All seven of the candidates linked to right-wing activist group Take Back Alberta (TBA) were elected.

"Chelsae Petrovic down in Livingstone-MacLeod, or Myles McDougall, or Eric Bouchard, you know, are those the sort of people that are going to be cabinet? I don't know but Take Back Alberta is going to want their representation as well," Bratt said.

One TBA-affiliated candidate, Jennifer Johnson in Lacombe-Ponoka, has already been kicked out of the party for comments she made comparing transgender students to feces in food, and will sit as an independent.

CTV News reached out to the premier's office for a timeline of when the new cabinet will be chosen but has not yet heard back. 

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