The Honourable Ed Stelmach is Alberta’s 13th Premier. Stelmach and the Progressive Conservative Party won a landslide victory in the provincial election held March 3, 2008. They won 72 of 81 seats. Though Stelmach has served as Premier on December 14, 2006 when he took over for outgoing leader Ralph Klein, the victory marks Stelmach’s first official term in office. Stelmach has been leader of the Progressive Conservative Party since December 2006, and a Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly since 1993.
Stelmach’s leadership win came as a surprise considering his campaign for the PC leadership was less prominent than that of party insider Jim Dinning and the socially conservative Ted Morton. He placed third in the first round of voting in November 2006. A week later he emerged as leader after the second round of voting, thanks to the endorsements of three candidates dropped after the first round. Stelmach replaced outgoing party leader and Premier Ralph Klein.
Following his election as party leader, Stelmach announced a new cabinet that included all of the leadership contenders who had supported him in the second round of voting. The new cabinet was criticized for being dominated by white males and for not containing enough MLAs from Calgary.
Stelmach’s initiation into politics began with his election to the Lamont County Council. The following year he became Reeve, a position he held for five years. During that time, he served as the Lamont Council’s representative on the local school board and on the Health Unit Association of Alberta. He ventured into politics in 1993, winning the Alberta PC nomination in the riding of Vegreville—Viking. He was subsequently re-elected in Vegreville-Viking and later in the new riding of Fort Saskatchewan—Vegreville in the 1997, 2001, and 2004 provincial elections.
He held four cabinet posts under Premier Klein’s government: in 1997 Stelmach became Minister of Agriculture, Food and Development; in May 1999, he was shuffled to the Infrastructure Ministry, later becoming Minister of Transport; and, in 2004, he became the Alberta Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, a position he held until he resigned in June 2006 to become a party leadership candidate. Stelmach has also served on several provincial committees as Caucus Whip and Deputy Caucus Whip.
Born on May 11, 1951, Stelmach was raised in Lamont County in Northern Alberta on the homestead his Ukrainian grandparents established in 1898. He enrolled in a pre-law program at the University of Alberta, but returned home to assume responsibility for the family farm following a tragedy. Since returning home in 1973, he has developed the family farm business. Stelmach still lives there with his wife Marie. They have four grown children and one grandchild. He is the first Alberta premier of Ukrainian descent.
Stelmach is an active community member. He has served on the board of the Archer Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home and as a director for the Andrew Co-Op Association, the Lamont District 4-H Council, and the Andrew 4-H Beef Club.