N.S. gets new cabinet

Nova Scotia's premier-designate John Hamm announced his Conservative cabinet Friday. The 11-member team is the smallest cabinet the province has seen since 1971.

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Before announcing the 11 new ministers, of which Hamm himself is one, the new premier said it would be a small cabinet but "with room to grow."

In order to shrink the number of government ministries Hamm combined some key areas. Natural Resources Minister Ernie Fage also takes over responsibility for agriculture and fisheries.

Twenty-nine Conservatives were elected in the July election and Hamm had hinted most of those to be named to cabinet would be veterans from the last session.

Hamm had said he'd carefully consider regional representation in making his appointments.

That's why Rodney MacDonald, the party's only MLA elected on Cape Breton Island, was named as minister of tourism and culture.

Veteran MLA Neil LeBlanc will become the minister of finance while Jamie Muir takes on the job of health minister.

Hamm plans to eliminate the regional health boards from the troubled portfolio but he says deputy ministers and civil servants won't have to worry about losing their jobs.

"There will be certain realignments; those are inevitable. But there will be no purge," Hamm says. "Public servants will be keeping their jobs but I can't say that realignment won't affect the careers of some people because that occurs every time a new direction is taken."

Hamm's "new direction" is a streamlined one. He says that's the only way his government can achieve the balanced budget it has promised in three years time.

The new ministers will be sworn in on Monday.