Sask. gets new finance minister

Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz is Saskatchewan's new finance minister following a major cabinet shuffle on Tuesday.

Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz is Saskatchewan's new finance minister following a major cabinet shuffle on Tuesday.

Among the biggest changes announced by Premier Brad Wall: Environment Minister Nancy Heppner and Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer are now out of cabinet.

Wall also sent Regina MLA Christine Tell to the back benches on Tuesday.

Newcomers to cabinet include Regina's Laura Ross and Lloydminster's Tim McMillan.

And former cabinet minister Darryl Hickie is back after a spell away from the cabinet table.

Krawetz, formerly the education minister as well as Wall's deputy, replaces Gantefoer in the finance portfolio. Gantefoer announced earlier this month he wasn't going to run in the 2011 provincial election. As a result, some pundits and legislature watchers were expecting him to be out of cabinet Tuesday.

Perhaps more of a surprise was Wall dropping high-profile Martensville MLA Heppner. As environment minister, Heppner was under fire from the NDP Opposition for both her government's climate change policies and a controversial bill that could allow environmentally sensitive Crown land to be sold.

McMillan, who made a name for himself in the past year as a champion of endangered wild ponies,  will be the minister responsible for the Crown Investments Corporation, while Ross is government services minister.

Hickie, who left cabinet a year ago following a sometimes rocky stint as corrections, public safety and policing minister when there were several high-profile escapes and accidental releases from jails, becomes municipal affairs minister.

Donna Harpauer becomes education minister, handing her social services portfolio to longtime colleague June Draude.

The First Nations and Métis relations portfolio goes to Ken Cheveldayoff. Bill Hutchinson moves from there to tourism, while Tourism Minister Dustin Duncan is promoted to environment.

Wall says with these changes, 24 of his 37 government colleagues will have served in cabinet. He said earlier this month it's expected this will be the final cabinet shuffle before the election on Nov. 7, 2011.