After two members of his own party defected to the Wildrose Alliance and public support of the provincial Conservatives dropped to an all time low, Premier Ed Stelmach named his new cabinet team Wednesday afternoon.
The shuffle brings three new Tories into the inner sanctum while demoting three former ministers to the backbenches.
Highlights include Edmonton-Mill Creek MLA Gene Zwozdesky, formerly Minister of Aboriginal Relations, taking on Health; Ted Morton of Foothills-Rocky View moving from Sustainable Resource Development to Finance; and Calgary-West's Ron Liepert changing from Health to Energy.
Current Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner has been appointed deputy premier by Stelmach, replacing Ron Stevens who resigned in May to become a judge.
"My new team will tackle Alberta's fiscal challenges with determination," said Stelmach in a prepared statement. "I have promised Albertans that we will be back in the black in three years and I have not wavered from that commitment."
Premier Stelmach said his new cabinet will be focused on bringing Alberta out of the recession, creating jobs, improving infrastructure and creating the best performing public health care system in the country.
"Alberta's future is bright, and our best days are yet to come," said Stelmach, who left the country following the announcement on a 10-day trade mission to the Middle East.