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Premier Danny Williams speaks with reporters in St. John's Friday. At left is rookie cabinet minister Susan Sullivan; at rear are Jerome Kennedy, left, and Tom Marshall, who switched portfolios. ((CBC))

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams switched several of his key ministers Friday in the first major cabinet shuffle since the Progressive Conservatives' landslide election victory last year.

Williams said he made the moves to "rejuvenate" his inner circle, and said the new cabinet is the formation he intends to see govern during the remainder of the current term.

Williams moved former justice minister Jerome Kennedy to the finance portfolio, while Tom Marshall goes from finance to justice.

Marshall returns to a portfolio he formerly held, while Kennedy, who was first elected last year, leaves the Justice Department after launching several significant initiatives, including a top-to-toe overhaul of the province's jails and corrections system.

Williams also announced Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale will now serve as deputy premier. 

Williams introduced only one new face to cabinet: Susan Sullivan, a central Newfoundland MHA who was first elected last year. Sullivan takes on the human resources portfolio, as well as responsibility for the status of persons with disabilities, francophone affairs and the Labour Relations Agency.

Speaking with reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at Government House in St. John's, Williams said Kennedy will be responsible for steering the province through any turbulence spinning out of the global financial crisis.

"We are also shifting gears from a prosperous time to a more stringent time, for want of a better word," said Williams, whose government projected a $544-million surplus in the spring budget, based largely on high oil prices.

"It could be a tough period we're going to go through as well," Williams added.  

Williams said the provincial treasury should be fine for this fiscal year. Beyond that, however, is another issue altogether.

"As we go farther out and as the price of oil drops down, our long-term revenue forecasts are going to be down, which means our bottom line and our surplus will be down," Williams said.

Williams said he expects Sullivan, who represents Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans district, to bring a strong voice from central Newfoundland into the cabinet. Some of the most pressing issues in the province, including the future of the troubled AbitibiBowater newsprint mill, are centred in the region.

Staying put

Tom Hedderson becomes minister of fisheries and aquaculture, a post made vacant last May when Tom Rideout quit cabinet after a dispute with Williams over public works spending in his district.

Amid the changes, some prominent faces are staying put.

Education Minister Joan Burke and Health Minister Ross Wiseman, who have both become familiar with crisis management in demanding portfolios, are retaining their seats at the cabinet table.

Also holding their positions are Labrador Affairs Minister John Hickey, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Patty Pottle and Tourism Minister Clyde Jackman. Williams announced Jackman will serve as acting minister of environment and conservation, as long as current minister Charlene Johnson stays on medical leave.  

Meanwhile, Dianne Whalen moves to Municipal Affairs from Transportation and Works, while Dave Denine loses Municipal Affairs in favour of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Formerly in Human Resources and Labour, Shawn Skinner takes on new responsibilities in Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. Trevor Taylor, who had held the innovation portfolio, takes the transportation and works post from Whalen.

Williams, meanwhile, had nothing but praise for both Marshall and Kennedy, describing the former as having "done an outstanding job" and the latter as having "run a good ship at Justice."