Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr was not expecting to be promoted to a cabinet position but could not be happier to get the culture portfolio.
“Yes, it was a complete surprise. I did not anticipate this coming,” said Orr, who was first elected in 2015.
“I am very pleased to do this ministry and to serve the people of Alberta. I think it’s the one ministry I’m suited for based on my past experience and skill set,” he said in a phone interview only hours after he was sworn in on Thursday.
Central Alberta is now represented by two ministers. Education Minister Adriana LaGrange retained her position.
Orr is no stranger to the culture portfolio. In his first term, he served as opposition culture critic during the NDP government of Rachel Notley.
“I was able to meet with a lot of the players in the culture industry. So I’ve gotten to know them and I’ve studied the file quite a bit because of that.”
Orr believes his governing style is also a good fit with the culture file.
“I’m a consensus builder. I believe in listening before talking and I just feel I can connect with all of these people,” he said.
“There’s such a diverse, interesting and creative bunch of people in the world of Alberta culture. I’m really looking forward to meeting and reconnecting with all of them.”
He is also looking forward to having a seat at the decision-making table.
“To be honest, I’m quite thrilled to the broader conversations of cabinet and some of the larger policy decisions that have to be made.”
Orr said he has not been shy about speaking up for central Alberta for government but agrees having two ministers from the region in cabinet strengthens the region’s voice.
He comes to the ministry just as there are signs that those in culture and entertainment will see their audiences return as COVID numbers fall.
“My real commitment will be to try and find a positive and encouraging voice and support our cultural players. They’ve had a real struggle not being able to engage publicly very much.
“Hopefully, we can change all of that and get some spark and some life and some music and dance going again and things will be a lot better than they have been.”