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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:40 pm    Post subject: B.C. Premier appoints new cabinet Reply with quote

B.C. Premier appoints new cabinet


BC Premier Gordon Campbell. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Richard Lam

VICTORIA, B.C. - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell says his new cabinet mixes fresh thinking with veteran leadership, the right combination for a province fighting a recession but poised to reach new heights on an Olympic-sized dream.

Campbell appointed raw rookies to some key jobs Wednesday, juggled several stalwart veterans and shed four ministers, whom he told, "sorry, at this time it's not going to be possible to ask them to serve in cabinet."

Campbell said the economy, aboriginals, labour and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler dominated his cabinet deliberations and his vision for the future.

Campbell's Liberals were elected to a third-straight mandate last month, winning 49 of 85 seats.

"This is a fresh cabinet for positive change," he said. "They are all proven leaders who are undaunted by the difficult tasks and excited by our agenda for a stronger B.C.

"The journey ahead may be arduous but we have begun."

Opposition Leader Carole James said the new cabinet should focus on helping families and communities cope with the economic downturn.

She also renewed her call for a fresh economic and fiscal update and for the premier to follow through on his promise to protect key services such as health care and education.

"Mr. Campbell's cabinet will be held accountable if they break their promise and start making deep cuts to vital public services - cuts that will make tough times tougher for B.C. families and threaten our economic recovery," the NDP leader said in a statement.

Front-bench heavyweight Mike de Jong, the government's house leader, becomes attorney general, filling a hole left when Wally Oppal was defeated in a tight race against Independent Vicki Huntington.

Oppal was the only member of the last cabinet to be defeated in the May 12 election.

Colin Hansen remains as finance minister but adds deputy premier to his title. He loses his responsibility as minister in charge of the Olympics to newcomer Mary McNeil.

Former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed, elected for the first time May 12, becomes solicitor general.

"It's going to be quite a learning experience," said Heed, one of seven Liberal rookies elevated to cabinet.

Fellow rookie Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid becomes education minister.

In all, there will be nine new faces around the cabinet table.

George Abbott moves from his longtime post as minister of health to be minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, a key portfolio as Campbell continues with plans to massively overhaul the province's approach to land claims.

"Mr. Abbott has shown that he's a man who can work with people, who can build alliances," said Campbell.

"Clearly, this is going to be a key initiative this government undertakes and minister Abbott has always shown himself to be not just dependable and reliable, but imaginative, creative in coming up with solutions we have to find."

Former transportation minister Kevin Falcon fills Abbott's job as health minister, lauded by Campbell as another veteran who can tackle big jobs. The Health Ministry eats the biggest chunk of the provincial budget and has a massive bureaucracy.

"I truly believe health care is the challenge of our generation," said Falcon.

James said Falcon's appointment is a sign the government plans to make health cuts.

"Promoting him to the health ministry is a worrisome sign that patient care is going to suffer and other radical cuts are coming to vital public services like education and public safety," she said.

However the B.C. Nurses' Union, which has often been at odds with the government, said it welcomed Falcon's appointment and looked forward to an early meeting.

"We're especially pleased the premier has chosen to appoint an experienced senior minister to head the department that is so crucial to the well-being of the people of the province," union president Debra McPherson said a news release.

Shirley Bond, who had been education minister, now becomes minister of transportation, and she loses the deputy premier title.

Barry Penner remains as environment minister but Campbell has created a new junior portfolio to oversee climate action. Newcomer John Yap fills that spot.

Mary Polak was given a hefty promotion, moving from the relatively obscure portfolio of healthy living and sport into the difficult children's ministry.

"She will be a great advocate for childcare and she's a great partnership builder," said Campbell.

Pat Bell stays as forests minister.

Campbell said his new cabinet will tackle the tough economy with zeal and ensure the province takes advantage of the 2010 Olympics.

"Three billion people will be introduced to B.C.," he said. "I want those three billion viewers to feel the indomitable spirit of British Columbians."

Campbell said labour will become a huge issue after the Olympics when contracts for thousands of government workers expire. Murray Coell was appointed labour minister.

The shuffle also saw Campbell kick some ministers out of cabinet, including Richmond-area MLA Linda Reid, who was the minister for child care.

Campbell said she will be the government's nominee for deputy speaker.

Bill Barisoff will once again be the government's nominee for speaker.

Reid was elected for the Liberals in 1991 and has been in cabinet since the party formed government in 2001.

Also removed were Gordon Hogg, who has been in and out of cabinet several times, and Joan Macintyre. Former agriculture minister Ron Cantelon was also dropped after being in cabinet only since January.

In all, there are 21 ministers and four ministers of state. There are also five parliamentary secretaries.

Seven of the cabinet ministers are women.


Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's hope this mandate energizes the BC Conservative Party... Real opposition is long overdue in BC.


Joined: 09 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to see more diversity in his cabinet. I am still nevertheless dismayed the arrogance and lack of accountability Campbell's government has been displaying. I did not vote for his party last May, and I probably will not continue to unless something changes radically.
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B.C. Premier appoints new cabinet

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