The Honourable Edward M. Stelmach, 2006-2011
The Honourable Edward M. Stelmach was sworn in as Alberta's 13th Premier on December 14, 2006. Ed Stelmach is the first Premier of Alberta of Ukrainian origin and only the second person of Ukrainian descent to be elected Premier of a Canadian province. On March 3, 2008, Stelmach led the Progressive Conservatives to their 10th consecutive victory since 1971 and the second-largest majority of the party, winning 72 out of 83 seats.
Edward Michael Stelmach was born on May 11, 1951, at Lamont, Alberta. He was raised near Andrew, Alberta, as the youngest child in a family of five. After graduating from Andrew High School, Stelmach studied pre-law for two years at the University of Alberta before returning to run the family farm. On August 11, 1973, Ed Stelmach married Marie Warshawski, and the two settled on the family homestead near Andrew, raising their family of four children. Ed Stelmach has had significant community involvement over the years and has served as a school trustee with the County of Lamont Board of Education, the chair of the Vegreville Health Unit Board, and a member of the Archer Memorial Hospital, Lamont Auxiliary Hospital and Nursing Home boards. He has been involved with the Andrew Co-op Association and local 4-H Clubs.
In 1986, Ed Stelmach entered county politics, becoming Councillor for Division 4 of Lamont County. A year later, the Lamont County Council appointed him as Reeve, a position he would continue to hold until his election to the Legislative Assembly.
On June 15, 1993, Ed Stelmach was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for the constituency of Vegreville-Viking. Stelmach continued to represent the people of Vegreville-Viking until 2004, when he won his fourth provincial election for the newly created constituency of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. On March 3, 2008, he was elected to his fifth term as a Member.
Over the years, Ed Stelmach held a number of government positions and portfolios. In 1994, he was first appointed Deputy Government Whip, and then in 1996 he became Government Whip. On March 26, 1997, Ed Stelmach was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (1997-1999). In this role, he was also the Minister Responsible for the Alberta Agricultural Research Institute; the Alberta Dairy Control Board; the Alberta Grain Commission; the Agricultural Products Marketing Council; the Farmers' Advocate of Alberta; the Irrigation Council; the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation; and the Land Compensation and Surface Rights Boards.
In May 1999, Ed Stelmach was appointed Alberta's first Minister of Infrastructure (1999-2001). He subsequently became Minister of Transportation (2001-2004) and Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations (2004-2006). During his tenure as President of the Executive Council (2006-2011), Stelmach served as Minister Responsible for the Public Affairs Bureau.
As Premier, Ed Stelmach guided the province in establishing Canada's largest barrier-free interprovincial market. The signing of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement with British Columbia in 2007, followed by the launching of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement in 2010 with the neighbouring provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, provided a significant step forward for Alberta's economy.
Governing with integrity and transparency was one of the Stelmach Government's stated priorities and, to this end, a number of legislative reforms were undertaken. The first bill introduced by Ed Stelmach in his first Session as Premier was the Lobbyists Act. The bill was passed and a lobbyist registry was created. Under Stelmach, mandate letters for Ministers were written and made public, Minister's Office expenses were posted monthly on the Government of Alberta website, and government aircraft manifests were made more accessible to the public. All-party policy field committees were established in 2007 to review proposed legislation and regulations. In 2008, Ed Stelmach introduced the role of Parliamentary Assistant to provide assistance to Ministers and to allow more Members to obtain experience at the ministerial level.
In April 2008, Ed Stelmach announced changes to health care services in Alberta. In order to improve equitable access and coordinated policies, programs and standards, a provincial governance board replaced the nine regional health authority boards, the Alberta Cancer Board, the Alberta Mental Health Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. Ambulance services were moved under this new Alberta Health Services Board a few months later. Effective January 1, 2009, health care premiums were eliminated for all Albertans.
Stelmach's tenure as Premier saw the challenge of both administering the province through an economic boom and through a global economic downturn. In 2007, in response to the Alberta Auditor General's recommendation that the Government of Alberta was not collecting all of the energy royalties to which it was entitled, Ed Stelmach launched a royalty review. As a result, the royalty framework was established, with the rates increasing around the time of the downturn. Transitional royalty rates were introduced to ensure continued drilling activity, and the rates were re-adjusted to coincide with the financial realities of the day.
In 2007, the Municipal Sustainability Initiative was created to ensure predictable, sustainable funding for municipalities across Alberta. The Safe Communities program brought together governments, community organizations and the private sector to have a coordinated approach to crime. Another initiative was Alberta Innovates. Established in 2010, Ed Stelmach saw the need to provide an environment for a new creative workforce to grow and thrive in Alberta and to work to find solutions to challenges facing the province and the rest of the world.
On January 25, 2011, Ed Stelmach announced that he would not be seeking another term as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. In addition, he announced his intention to resign as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and as Premier when his successor was elected and sworn in. Ed Stelmach continued to serve as Premier until October 7, 2011.
Ed Stelmach has received a number of honours for his 25 years of public service. In 2007, Ed Stelmach was made an honourary chief of the Blackfoot Confederacy and given the name of ‘Star Chief.' In 2009, he was honoured by the Government of Ukraine with the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Class III. Among other awards, Ed Stelmach has received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005).
Ed and Marie Stelmach continue to live on the homestead founded by his grandparents over 100 years ago.