Premier shuffles cabinet, puts emphasis on mining sector

Derek Mombourquette will head up the new Department of Energy and Mines. Chuck Porter, a former Tory who joined the Liberals in 2016, will take over Municipal Affairs.

Derek Mombourquette will head up new Department of Energy and Mines

Chuck Porter, Derek Mombourquette, Iain Rankin and Margaret Miller were sworn into their new cabinet positions on Thursday. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Premier Stephen McNeil shuffled his cabinet Thursday and created a new department that underscores Nova Scotia's mining sector.

The former Department of Natural Resources will see its geoscience and mining division merge with Energy. The new department is called Energy and Mines and will be headed by former municipal affairs minister Derek Mombourquette, the MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier.

"Combining geoscience and mining with energy makes sense," McNeil said in a statement. "It's about taking a more cohesive approach to economic development opportunities, on land and offshore."

Timberlea-Prospect MLA Iain Rankin was appointed to the renamed Department of Lands and Forestry. 

"These changes will also ensure the forestry industry has a more dedicated departmental focus, which will help achieve the necessary balance between sustainably developing our lands and forests and protecting the environment," McNeil said.

Rankin previously held the environment file, which will return to Hants East MLA Margaret Miller, who was minister of environment from 2016-2017 and more recently minister of natural resources.

Hants West MLA Chuck Porter, a former Tory who left the party in 2014 and later joined the Liberals, will join cabinet as minister of municipal affairs.

"You know, you just do your job and maybe one day something will come along," he said. "I've been here for over 12 years now, so I've got the call and I'm happy to do my part when asked."

Glace Bay MLA Geoff MacLellan will lose the energy file, but remains minister of business, trade and Service Nova Scotia.

After McNeil won his second mandate last year, he made sweeping changes to his cabinet.