LACOMBE — About 30 Lacombe business and industry leaders had their chance to sit down with one of the newest federal cabinet ministers on Monday.
Newly appointed Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel paid a visit to the city, where she and Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins held a roundtable discussion on economic growth and business innovation.
Calgary MP Rempel was named to the federal cabinet last month as part of the prime minister’s shuffle of his front bench. Rempel’s website claims she is the youngest, at 33, female appointed to cabinet in Canadian history.
As she has toured the West in her new role, Rempel said she has fielded many questions on what exactly the Western Economic Diversification Department does. The department has existed since 1987 with a mandate to advance the interests of the West in national economic policy through strengthening innovation, entrepreneurship and community economic development in the Western provinces.
In her opening remarks, Rempel said her goal in the position is to make it clear what the department does and inform people on how they can access the support programs it offers, such as the Community Futures network. She also said it is her role to advocate the role of the Western economy throughout Canada, noting that there is a burgeoning aerospace industry in the West that few people know about.
Although Rempel could not be reached following the meeting, she tweeted that “several concrete policy ideas emerged to further economic growth in (Central Alberta).”