May 25, 2015 - 7:02 AM
EDMONTON - NDP Leader Rachel Notley ushered in Alberta's first change of government in almost 44 years Sunday, being sworn in on the steps of the legislature as the 17th premier.
"Welcome to the first day of Alberta's new government," Notley told the cheering crowd under bright afternoon sunshine. "Today we open up a new chapter in the story of Alberta."
The other 11 members of Notley's new cabinet were also sworn in.
Former Calgary alderman Joe Ceci is the new finance minister.
Former teacher and school administrator Margaret McCuaig-Boyd is the new minister of energy.
Former NDP leader Brian Mason is the new minister of infrastructure and transportation.
The ceremony officially brought to a close 43 years, eight months, and 15 days of Progressive Conservative rule, dating back to Sept. 10, 1971.
It is the longest stretch of power by one party in Canadian history.
Notley's team made its own history on May 5, capturing 54 of 87 legislature seats to dethrone the Tories under leader Jim Prentice.
It's the first NDP government in Alberta, and Notley becomes Alberta's second female premier after former Tory leader Alison Redford.
It is also a passing of the torch.
Notley's father, Grant Notley, was the leader of Alberta's NDP during lean years for the party in the 1970s and early 80s. He died in a plane crash in 1984, just two years before the NDP made an historic breakthrough, winning 16 seats and forming official Opposition in 1986.
For Alberta, it's the first time in over a year, a premier is governing with a provincewide mandate.
After Redford quit in March 2014, she was succeeded by Dave Hancock, who was picked by the Tory caucus, and then by Prentice, who won a PC party leadership contest.
The ceremony launches a busy schedule.
The cabinet will hold its first meetings, in Calgary, on Wednesday and Thursday.
On June 1, 86 of the 87 members of the legislature will be sworn in as MLAs.
Prentice won his seat in Calgary-Foothills but quit on election night, before all the votes had even been counted.
The legislature resumes on June 11 for the selection of a new Speaker.
There will be a speech from the throne on June 15 followed by a short session mainly to pass a bill to keep the province's money flowing while Notley's team crafts its first budget to be released in the fall.
Notley ran on a plan that includes higher income taxes for the wealthy and rolling back many of Prentice's proposed tax and fee hikes.
She has promised a review of oil royalties, to hike the minimum wage to $15 by 2018, to fund thousands of new grade-school students arriving this fall, and to balance the budget by 2018-19.
The NDP hopes to put behind them a difficult week of transition. On Friday, the party formally apologized for using online invitations to the taxpayer-funded swearing-in as a way to raise funds.
It also ejected rookie Calgary Bow member Deborah Drever following the circulation of a series of questionable photos, including one deemed homophobic by the party.
Drever, 26, will sit as an Independent.
The election has radically redrawn the legislature seating chart. The Tories, under interim leader Ric McIver, have been reduced from 70 seats before the election to just nine.
The Wildrose party, under new leader Brian Jean, captured 21 seats to remain the Official Opposition.
David Swann, the interim leader of the Liberals, is now the party's only legislature member. Greg Clark, leader of the Alberta Party, won for the first time in Calgary Elbow.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015