Ken Kowalski

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Ken Kowalski
Alberta Speaker Ken Kowalski.jpg
11th Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly
In office
April 14, 1997 – May 23, 2012
Preceded by Stanley Schumacher
Succeeded by Gene Zwozdesky
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In office
November 21, 1979 – 1993
Preceded by Hugh Horner
Constituency Barrhead
In office
Constituency Barrhead-Westlock
In office
Succeeded by Maureen Kubinec
Constituency Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock
Personal details
Born Kenneth Reginald Kowalski
(1945-09-27) September 27, 1945 (age 71)
Bonnyville, Alberta
Political party Progressive Conservative

Kenneth "Ken" Reginald Kowalski, MLA (born September 27, 1945) is a provincial level politician and former teacher from Alberta, Canada. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, where he served continuously from November 1979 to March 2012, sitting with the governing Progressive Conservative caucus under five different Premiers.

Kowalski was the Speaker of the Assembly, and was first appointed to the Executive Council of Alberta by Premier Don Getty in 1986. Since his appointment he held five different cabinet portfolios including that of Deputy Premier from 1992 to 1994.

Early life[edit]

Kenneth Reginald Kowalski was born in Bonnyville, Alberta on September 27, 1945. He worked as a teacher at Barrhead Composite High School, and was a civil servant working for the Alberta government in the 1970s.

Political career[edit]

Kowalski ran for a seat to the Alberta Legislature for the first time a by-election held in November 1979 in the electoral district of Barrhead to replace Hugh Horner. He ran against three other candidates including Alberta Liberal leader Nicholas Taylor. Kowalski just barely won the election with Taylor finishing a strong second. He took 38% of the popular vote in the hotly contested race to hold the seat for the Progressive Conservatives. The other two candidates from Social Credit and the NDP also had respectable showings.[1]

Kowalski would face off against Taylor in the 1982 Alberta general election. The field in the race was crowded with a total of six different candidates contesting the race. Both Kowalski and Taylor would make gains while the other four opposition candidates didn't have much of an impact in the race. Kowalski held his seat by doubling his popular vote, while Taylor only saw a marginal increase.[2]

The 1986 general election would see Kowalski win re-election to his third term in office. He would win by a wider margin then 1982, with the collapse of the opposition vote. His popular vote would go up by an insignificant amount. New Democrat candidate Larry McConnell would finish a distant second, and the other three candidates in the race would poll an insignificant amount of votes.[3]

After the election Premier Don Getty would appoint Kowalski to the Executive Council of Alberta. He would serve his first cabinet portfolio as Minister of the Environment. On September 8, 1988 Getty would shuffle him become the Minister of Career Development and Employment. He ran for re-election in the 1989 general election with ministerial advantage. His popular vote in his district would rise again as he defeated three other candidates including Social Credit leader Harvey Yuill who finished in last place.[4]

Getty would shuffle Kowalski to his third cabinet portfolio. He became the Minister of Public Works, Supply, and Services. He kept that portfolio when Ralph Klein became Premier in 1992 and also became Deputy Premier. He held both those portfolios going into the 1993 general election. The electoral district of Barrhead was redistributed and became Barrhead-Westlock. He won the new electoral district and his fifth term in office with his highest popular vote to date despite facing a strong challenge from Liberal candidate Dale Greig and four other candidates.[5]

Klein would shuffle Kowalski to become the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism after the election, but he kept his position as Deputy Premier. He would lose both portfolios on September 15, 1994 and become Government Leader in the house. Kowalski would run for his sixth term in office in the 1997 general election. For the first time since he was elected his popular vote would drop. He defeated three candidates including Greig and Yuill to keep his seat.[6]

Kowalski would be elected Speaker of the Assembly in following the election on April 14, 1997. He would defeat Don Tannas and Glen Clegg on the second ballot to win the position. The speakers election was the first one to be held by secret ballot in the assembly.[7] He would run for his seventh term in office, and his first as incumbent speaker in the 2001 general election. His popular vote would rise significantly as he would defeat three other candidates in a landslide.[8]

After the election he would be acclaimed to his second term as Speaker.[9] He ran for his eighth term in office in the 2004 general election. His electoral district would again be redistributed and he ran in the new electoral district of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. He won a slightly reduced popular vote, but still easily won the electoral district defeating four other candidates.[10]

Kowalski would be acclaimed to his third term as Speaker.[9] He ran for his ninth term in the 2008 Alberta general election. He defeated four other candidates in a landslide to win the highest popular vote of his career.[11]

On April 14, 2008, 11 years to the day after he won his first term as Speaker, Kowalski would win his fourth term defeating Laurie Blakeman.[12] He would retire at the 2012 election.


  1. ^ "The Barrhead By-election". Elections Alberta. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Barrhead results 1982". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Barrhead results 1986". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Barrhead results 1989". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Barrhead results 1993". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Barrhead results 1997". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  7. ^ |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. April 14, 1997. pp. 1–2. 
  8. ^ "Barrhead results 2001". Alberta Heritage Community Foundation. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. May 16, 2006. p. 1,593. 
  10. ^ "Electoral Division of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock General Election Statement of Official Results" (PDF). Elections Alberta. November 22, 2004. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  11. ^ The Report on the March 3, 2008 Provincial General Election of the Twenty-seventh Legislative Assembly. Elections Alberta. pp. 364–371. 
  12. ^ |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. April 11, 2008. pp. 1–2. 

External links[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Ed Stelmach, Former Premier of Alberta
Order of precedence in Alberta
as of 2011
Succeeded by
Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to Canada