The newest member in the Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet will have to fight hard to hold his seat in the fall election, opposition politicians charge.
Derrick Dalley was appointed business minister just two weeks ago, as Premier Kathy Dunderdale made a small shuffle heading into the spring legislative session.
Dalley won his seat in The Isles of Notre Dame by just a dozen votes, while knocking out then-Liberal leader Gerry Reid in tough battle that resulted in a recount. Dalley is only the second Tory to win a provincial election in the Twillingate area.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says Dalley's status in a traditional Liberal district played at least some part in his entry into cabinet, especially as the Tories prepare for the Oct. 11 election.
"I think she's taking steps and doing everything in her power to hang on to that seat," Michael told CBC News.
On Wednesday, Dalley made his first major announcement, involving $500,000 in provincial government spending on a shrimp shell processing plant in Twillingate, the largest town in his district.
Michael accused Dalley of favouring his own district.
"He's using his position to help keep the seat. That's how I see it and I think that's why he was put in the position, so he could do that," she said.
Dalley said the grant was already prepared to be announced when he took over the business portfolio this month.
"Approval was given long before I got here, back in November actually," Dalley said.
Dalley said anyone who wanted to know why he was selected for cabinet should ask Dunderdale.
Kelvin Parsons, the acting leader of the Opposition, said the shrimp announcement is a sign that a rookie MHA is in trouble.
"He's not very strong in his district, apparently, and one of the ways to boost the fortunes of an MHA is, of course, to put him or her in cabinet," Parsons said in an interview.