Mike Cardinal

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Mike Cardinal
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Athabasca-Redwater
Athabasca-Wabasca (1993-2004)
Athabasca-Lac La Biche (1989-1993)
In office
March 20, 1989 – March 3, 2008
Preceded byLeo Piquette
Succeeded byJeff Johnson
Personal details
Melvin Percy Joseph Cardinal

(1941-07-17) July 17, 1941 (age 77)
Northern Alberta
Political partyProgressive Conservative

Melvin Percy Joseph "Mike" Cardinal[1] is a politician from Alberta, Canada and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, having served in that capacity from 1989 until 2008. He sat as a Progressive Conservative and represented the districts of Athabasca-Lac La Biche, Athabasca-Wabasca, and Athabasca-Redwater. He also held five cabinet posts in the government of Ralph Klein.

Early life[edit]

Mike Cardinal was born into a family of 13 in 1941 in northern Alberta, the son of a trapper and a homemaker. He dropped out of school in grade 8 to work, but eventually returned to school and graduated from grade 12. He spent ten years in the forestry and sawmill industries before entering the public sector. He worked as a mortgage officer with the Alberta Housing Corporation before transferring to the Alberta Human Resources Development Authority. There he developed a native housing/relocation program before moving to the department of Advanced Education and Manpower, where he served as regional supervisor of Employment/Counselling Services for ten years. He served a further three years as a regional manager of Employment and Relocation Counselling Services, and three more as a senior consultant to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Manpower.

Municipal politics[edit]

Cardinal served as a town councillor in Slave Lake and on the school board of the Northland School Division No. 61, where he chaired the board for three of his six years of service.

Provincial politics[edit]

Electoral record[edit]

Cardinal first sought provincial office in the 1989 election, when ran as a Progressive Conservative against incumbent New Democrat Leo Piquette in the riding of Athabasca-Lac La Biche. He defeated Piquette by more than 900 votes. When electoral boundaries were re-drawn in advance of the 1993 election, Cardinal ran in the new riding of Athabasca-Wabasca. He was elected here not only in 1993, but also in 1997 and 2001, taking well over fifty percent of the vote each time. In 2004 this riding too was abolished, and Cardinal served his last term as the member for Athabasca-Redwater, which he won handily in the 2004 election. He did not seek re-election at the conclusion of this term.


Cardinal served as a backbencher from the time of his election until Ralph Klein became premier in December 1992. During this time, he sponsored the Metis Settlements Land Protection Act of 1990, a government bill designed to give Metis settlements ownership over the land. It passed without significant controversy, though Liberal Nicholas Taylor questioned a portion of the bill that stipulated that the land, as it was communally owned, could not be mortgaged.[2]

Minister of Family and Social Services[edit]

Upon Ralph Klein's ascendancy to the Premiership in December 1992, Cardinal was brought into cabinet as the Minister of Family and Social Services. He was the first treaty Indian to be named to Alberta's cabinet,[3] and, in addition to his portfolio, was given cabinet responsibility for aboriginal issues.[4]

Election results[edit]

2004 Alberta general election results (Athabasca-Redwater) Turnout 49.9%
Affiliation Candidate Votes %
     Progressive Conservative Mike Cardinal 5,707 47.7%
     Liberal Nicole Belland 3,253 27.2%
     NDP Peter Opryshko 1,397 11.7%
Alberta Alliance Sean Whelan 1,184 9.9%
Green Luke de Smet 252 2.1%
     Social Credit Leonard Fish 177 1.5%
2001 Alberta general election results (Athabasca-Wabasca) Turnout 50.4%
     Progressive Conservative Mike Cardinal 4,238 66.7%
     Liberal Al Wurfel 1,264 19.9%
     NDP Colin Piquette 606 9.5%
     Social Credit David Klassen 153 2.4%
Green Ian Hopfe 94 1.5%
1997 Alberta general election results (Athabasca-Wabasca) Turnout 47.7%
     Progressive Conservative Mike Cardinal 3,380 59.0%
     Liberal Tony Mercredi 1,481 25.9%
     Social Credit Curtis Gunderson 468 8.2%
     NDP Dean Patriquin 300 5.2%
Green Harlan Light 100 1.7%
1993 Alberta general election results (Athabasca-Wabasca) Turnout 62.2%
     Progressive Conservative Mike Cardinal 4,144 60.0%
     Liberal Simon Waquan 1,921 27.8%
     NDP Emil Zachkewich 843 12.2%
1989 Alberta general election results (Athabasca-Lac La Biche) Turnout 67.5%
     Progressive Conservative Mike Cardinal 4,237 45.2%
     NDP Leo Piquette 3,342 35.7%
     Liberal Tom Maccagno 1,791 19.1%


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ https://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/hansards/han/legislature_22/session_2/19900605_2000_01_han.pdf |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Legislative Assembly of Alberta. June 5, 1990.
  3. ^ Quaid, Maeve (2002). Workfare: Why Good Social Policy Ideas Go Bad. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-8020-8101-8.
  4. ^ Fraser, Fil (March 27, 1993). "Cardinal ready to settle Lubicon claim". Edmonton Journal.
Alberta Provincial Government of Ralph Klein
Cabinet posts (5)
Predecessor Office Successor
Clint Dunford Minister of Human Resources and Employment
Iris Evans (as Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry)
New portfolio Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
David Coutts
Steve West Minister of Resource Development
Murray Smith (as Minister of Energy)
New portfolio Associate Minister of Forestry
Portfolio abolished
John Oldring Minister of Family and Social Services
Stockwell Day