Premier Christy Clark overhauled her cabinet on Wednesday, and immediately challenged the 16-member team to cut costs for B.C. families.
Clark, who appointed cabinet veteran Mike de Jong as finance minister, indicated her government would consider creating tax breaks or reducing household expenses, such as insurance or electricity rates, before the provincial election on May 14, 2013.
There is a whole range of things that government can do outside of tax policy that can make life more affordable, Clark said as she announced a new cabinet working group on family affordability.
NDP leader Adrian Dix applauded Clarks appointments, but said creating another committee was not the way to reduce peoples financial burdens.
Surely, that should be a priority all the time, he said. That type of move just shows that a government has been in power too long.
Forming a cabinet without experienced ministers such as Kevin Falcon, Blair Lekstrom and George Abbott would be no easy task, said veteran political scientist Norman Ruff. All three have left the cabinet after saying they will not be running for re-election.
Ruff said de Jong, who takes over from Falcon, was the obvious choice for finance minister, considering his experience as minister in several departments, including attorney general, aboriginal affairs, health and forests.
Hes very experienced and is now one of the key three people shes relying on, Ruff said.
But he also suggested Clark may have botched the public relations component of the cabinet shuffle by letting MLAs announce their political retirements before declaring her changes.
She should have got ahead of the game by announcing the shuffle first, he said.
Clark said she was challenged to put together a balanced cabinet after the recent retirement announcements. Sixteen of 46 Liberal MLAs have said they will not seek re-election.
I wanted to make sure that I had a core of experienced people who have been in the realm of government for some time, she said. But I also wanted to make sure that I was bringing a balance of people into cabinet who were relatively fresh to government.
Margaret MacDiarmid takes over de Jongs health portfolio, leaving her post as labour minister. A former physician and breast cancer survivor, MacDiarmid is one of a handful of cabinet members who have worked in fields related to their new positions.
Former teacher Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley, leaves his agriculture position and takes over as education minister. Ralph Sultan, who was first elected in 2001, said being a senior he turns 80 next month would be an asset in his role as minister for seniors.
Five cabinet ministers retain their positions, including Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond. Rich Coleman stays on in the slightly revised energy and mines position, which now includes natural gas in its title.
Terry Lake remains environment minister; Steve Thomson stays on in forests, lands and natural resource operations; and Pat Bell remains the minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour.
Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong moves from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development to the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
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Premier Christy Clark introduced five new members to her overhauled cabinet Wednesday, as she moved most ministers into new positions.
Former health minister Mike de Jong takes the high profile portfolio of finance minister, taking over from Kevin Falcon, who left the position recently in a string of Liberal retirement announcements.
New cabinet members include Norm Letnick, agriculture; Ben Stewart, citizen services and open government; Bill Bennett, community, sport and cultural development; Moira Stilwell, social development; and Ralph Sultan, minister of state for seniors.
The new cabinet is:Premier - Hon. Christy ClarkMinister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and Minister Responsible for Housing and Deputy Premier- Hon. Rich ColemanMinister of Finance and House Leader - Hon. Mike de JongMinister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation - Hon. Ida ChongMinister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism - Hon. John YapMinister of Agriculture - Hon. Norm LetnickMinister of Children and Family Development - Hon. Stephanie CadieuxMinister of Citizens' Services and Open Government - Hon. Ben StewartMinister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development - Hon. Bill BennettMinister of Education - Hon. Don McRaeMinister of Environment - Hon. Terry LakeMinister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations - Hon. Steve ThomsonMinister of Health - Hon. Margaret MacDiarmidMinister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour - Hon. Pat BellMinister of Justice and Attorney General - Hon. Shirley BondMinister of Social Development - Hon. Moira StilwellMinister of Transportation and Infrastructure - Hon. Mary PolakMinister of State for Seniors - Hon. Ralph SultanMinister of State for Small Business - Hon. Naomi Yamamoto
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