Williams shuffles cabinet heading into N.L. election stretch
Skinner, Wiseman elevated to cabinet; Shelley announces pending retirement
With a provincial election in the offing, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams tapped two backbenchers Friday to fill out his cabinet.
Williams appointed St. John's Centre MHA Shawn Skinner, a former St. John's councillor,to replace Shelley. Skinner will also handle the labour and housing portfolios that Shelley had held.
Williams also moved Tom Osborne to justice from health to fill a vacancy created with the surprise departure Dec. 29 of Loyola Sullivan, one of Williams's top lieutenants.
Because Osborne is not a lawyer, Tom Rideout— who had been acting as justice minister the past three weeks— will serve as attorney general.
Williams had moved former justice minister Tom Marshall to finance after Sullivan announced his retirement.
Set up for election: Williams
Speaking to reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at Government House, Williams said the changes setup his governing Progressive Conservatives' agenda for the general election Oct. 9.
"This'll be the election cabinet, as far as I can see," Williams said.
"My family and I made the decision when I first entered public life that I would not serve continuously for longer than 15 years," Shelley said in a statement.
"I feel the time has come to keep my promise to my family and step aside from elected office," said Shelley, who many observers predicted would announce his retirement.
Williams announced some other changes involving his caucus.
Harry Harding, the MHA for Bonavista North, has been named parliamentary secretary to the minister of fisheries and aquaculture.
Williams announced earlier this week that byelections will be held Feb. 8 in Ferryland, Kilbride and Port au Port districts.
Sullivan had represented Ferryland for more than 14 years.
Kilbride became vacant when former natural resources minister Ed Byrne, one of five politicians named in the legislative spending scandal, quit his seat on Jan. 1.
Former Port au Port MHA Jim Hodder announced a week ago he was retiring from politics for health reasons.
On Friday, government backbencher Humber Valley MHA Kathy Goudie announced she was resigning her seat, effective immediately. Williams then called a byelection for Feb. 12.