Opposition Wildrose critic Derek Fildebrandt says John Heaney's record as a "party apparatchik" for the NDP in British Columbia raises questions about why he is now has a taxpayer-funded job to act in an impartial role.
The job's salary tops out at $287,000 a year.
"The premier is overreaching the appropriate powers of her office by appointing a longtime NDP party apparatchik to a highly paid senior position in the civil service," Fildebrandt said Tuesday.
"It's a brand new position," he added. "The premier should rescind this appointment."
Fildebrandt said the appointment suggests the NDP is going down the path of the former Progressive Conservative government by blurring the lines between party and public work.
Notley spokeswoman Cheryl Oates said in an email that the New Democrats are not "moving to politicize the civil service."
"This is a different administration and our government needs to have a close connection with the civil service," she said. "This is a relatively new civil service and our government has a list of ambitious and robust policy changes we want to implement.
"John Heaney has an incredible amount of government experience and ... will play an important part of ensuring we work with the civil service to do the work we promised Albertans we would do."
Heaney was appointed last week as acting associate deputy minister of policy and planning for Notley's cabinet, making him one of the highest-ranking civil servants in the province.
Oates said the job lasts until the end of July.
Heaney has been on a leave of absence as chief of staff for the opposition NDP in B.C. to help Notley with the transition to power.
He has worked with the NDP in British Columbia both inside and outside government. He has helped with messaging on hot-button topics such as the Nisga'a treaty and the Nanaimo bingo scandal.
His advocacy work has long drawn criticism from opponents.
In 1995, the Liberals accused the NDP and Heaney, as an assistant deputy minister, of running a "political damage control unit" inside a government department.
Fildebrant said Heaney's appointment is part of a disturbing trend under Notley to co-opt the tools of government for partisan ends.
Alberta's NDP was forced to apologize and backtrack last month after it tried to use the taxpayer-funded swearing-in of Notley and her cabinet as a hook to solicit party donations.
The party was also accused of violating the democratic tradition of a free vote for the Speaker when caucus backbencher Bob Wanner announced that Notley had urged her caucus to pick him as legislature referee.
"This is beginning to fit into a troubling pattern of politicizing positions and institutions that are supposed to be non-partisan," said Fildebrandt.