Maskwacis Wetaskiwin MLA says ‘honoured’ by portfolio

Rick Wilson named Minister of Aboriginal Relations

Not only has the brand new constituency of Maskwacis Wetaskiwin received a brand new MLA following the Apr. 16 provincial election, it has received its first cabinet minister in a number of years.

Newly elected Maskwacis Wetaskiwin MLA was named Minister of Indigenous Relations by Premier Jason Kenney last week.

Contacted by phone May 10, Wilson said the premier offering him a cabinet portfolio was quite an experience.

“It was quite an exciting day and quite an honour,” said Wilson, noting he might even describe the experience as “awe-inspiring.”

Wilson said accepting the portfolio that is the bridge between First Nations communities and the provincial government was a natural for him. Growing up in the Pigeon Lake area, Wilson said throughout his life he’s spent lots of time with members of the Four Nations and, coupled with his municipal government and health region board experience, he feels he’s well-prepared to begin this job.

The MLA said the solid relationships he enjoys in the constituency are already helping him in the short term.

Looking at the ministry, the major focus will remain what Premier Kenney has already said most of the provincial government will focus on: economic recovery and job creation.

Wilson said partnerships are important, so to that end his ministry will place a focus on consulting with First Nations partners on the Aboriginal Opportunity Corporation, a Crown corporation that would have $1 billion in investment related to oil and gas industry projects.

Wilson said another program worth about $10 million is geared towards reducing red tape for business owners.

The new minister said he’s looking forward to working with First nations across Alberta, getting to know First Nations communities and helping them achieve their goals.

Locally, Wilson said his constituency office will be the same office he used in the election campaign, the Old Train Station downtown. “We’re just getting the constituency office set up,” said Wilson.

He said he’s hoping to have the office fully running by the end of May.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca

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