As NDP staffers depart, Kenney begins to pick top aides

Don Braid, Calgary Herald

About 150 NDP government political staffers lost their jobs Thursday, swept out in the inevitable spring cleaning after an election defeat.

These are the ministerial chiefs of staff, deputies, issue managers, news secretaries and others whose role is defined as political.

They include quasi-public figures such as Jeremy Nolais, former Calgary journalist and Premier Rachel Notley’s issues manager; and Cheryl Oates, her spokeswoman, who will stay on for some days yet to help with transition to the UCP.

Also on the way out is Notley’s chief of staff, Nathan Rotman, who technically employs the political staffers and thus has the job of firing them.

On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the defeat, the political crew gathered in legislature room 512, the only meeting area big enough to hold them all.

It was the outgoing premier’s birthday. Notley got a huge ovation when she entered the room.

Somebody handed her a box of Kleenex. It was the emotional end of the NDP world.

Premier-designate Jason Kenney’s own people will soon start filling those jobs, and many more.

Kenney said Thursday there will be some changes in senior bureaucratic ranks. He doesn’t expect a major housecleaning, but the top people will obviously have to be onside with the United Conservative Party agenda.

By Thursday, the complex, sometimes contentious transition from one government party to another was well underway.

Chairing Kenney’s transition team is David Knight Legg, a longtime friend who’s had a career in international business.

Originally from Lethbridge, he came back to Alberta last November to help with the campaign. He’s likely to fill a government role after the swearing-in April 30.

Senior officials in Kenney’s office won’t be announced until next week, says spokeswoman Christine Myatt. But there are some likely candidates.

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