Alward prepares PC transition plan
Last Updated: Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 9:52 AM ET
The Progressive Conservatives are busy preparing for their Oct. 12 return to power as Premier-designate David Alward has named his transition team and met with top bureaucrats.
Alward met with outgoing premier Shawn Graham on Wednesday along with several senior bureaucrats to help ensure a smooth handover of power.
The Tories released the official transition team on Thursday, including Sen. Rose-May Poirier; Dennis Cochrane, a former Tory leader and president of St. Thomas University in Fredericton; Ross McKean, a former insider to both ex-Tory leaders Richard Hatfield and Bernard Lord; Hermel Vienneau, a former top adviser to Lord; and Gordon Porter, the former chair of the province's human rights commission.
'Actually one of my first questions for him was how he's managed to keep his hair from greying over the last four years.'— Premier-designate David Alward
Alward has promised to swear in a cabinet of 15 ministers plus himself on Oct. 12.
Alward and Graham met on Wednesday to plan the transition.
After the meeting with his political rival, Alward avoided specific questions from reporters about whether he'll fire any Liberals appointed to deputy minister positions, preferring to focus on easier issues.
"Actually one of my first questions for him was how he's managed to keep his hair from greying over the last four years," Alward told reporters.
Alward's statement reinforced the description from the staff of both political leaders that the two men had a light-hearted meeting.
Along with a trimmed down cabinet — Graham had 20 ministers plus himself — Alward did talk about giving backbench MLAs a bigger role on committees and making the legislative assembly more co-operative.
Graham, who became New Brunswick's first premier to be ousted after only one term on Sept. 27, offered some free advice to his successor.
He advised Alward to avoid taking the stress of the job home with him at night.
"It's important that when he leaves this office at night, he puts his family first and he doesn't take home the trials and tribulations of public office," Graham said.
Graham will not lead his caucus of 13 Liberals into the next legislative session.
The Liberal caucus is expected to meet next week and discuss plans for selecting an interim leader. Former cabinet ministers, such as Victor Boudreau and Donald Arseneault, have been rumoured to be possible interim replacements for Graham if they decide not to run to replace the outgoing leader permanently.
Although Graham will keep his riding of Kent, which he has held since a 1998 byelection, he will not serve as Opposition leader again. Graham was the province's Opposition leader from 2002 to 2006.
Former Liberal premier Camille Theriault stayed on as Opposition leader until March 2001 after his June 1999 defeat to Lord's Progressive Conservatives.
New Brunswick law forces the premier to call a byelection within six months of any vacancies. Even though Kent has been held by Graham and his father, Alan since 1967, the party may be encouraging Graham to stay on to avoid losing a byelection so soon after the Sept. 27 campaign.