B.C. Premier Christy Clark unveils new cabinet

B.C. Premier Christy Clark unveiled her new cabinet Wednesday morning at a swearing in ceremony at Government House in Victoria.

Shuffle comes as Clark prepares for the upcoming provincial election in May

B.C. Premier Christy Clark unveiled her new cabinet Wednesday morning at a swearing in ceremony at Government House in Victoria, giving the top positions to her most experienced cabinet ministers.  

The new cabinet includes 13 existing cabinet members, three MLAs with previous cabinet experience and two rookies. 

  • Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas, and Minister of Housing Rich Coleman.
  • Finance Minister and House Leader Mike de Jong.
  • Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.
  • Education Minister Don McRae.
  • Transportation Minister Mary Polak.
  • Jobs Minister Pat Bell.
  • Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond. 
  • Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong.
  • Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology Minister John Yap.
  • Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick (first time in cabinet).
  • Children and Families Minister Stephanie Cadieux.
  • Citizens Services Minister Ben Stewart (new to cabinet).
  • Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett (new to cabinet).
  • Environment Minister and Deputy House Leader Terry Lake.
  • Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson.
  • Social Development Minister Moira Stilwell (new to cabinet).
  • Minister of State for Seniors Ralph Sultan (new to cabinet).
  • Minister of State for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto.

'Renewed commitment'

Clark added no new ministries, keeping the total number of cabinet members at 19, including herself.

But Clark did change the makeup of several ministries. The Minister of Advanced Education is now also responsible for innovation and technology.

The Ministry of Jobs and Tourism is now responsible for skills training and labour.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark unveiled her new cabinet on Wednesday morning. (CBC)

The Ministry of Energy and Mines now includes natural gas, highlighting an economic development priority for the Clark.

"This new cabinet brings a renewed commitment to our priorities," said Clark.

"That means staying focused on jobs and fiscal discipline and continuing our efforts to make life more affordable for B.C. families."

Opposition New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix said Clark appears more interested in rejuvenating her government through a cabinet shuffle than helping British Columbians through more skills training programs and improvements to health care and education.

"I don't think the issues in B.C. are about who's in the Liberal cabinet," he said. "I think this particular cabinet shuffle has principally been made necessary by the political challenges of the Liberal Party."

High-profile resignations

The cabinet shuffle follows the announcements by several high-profile cabinet ministers this week and last that they do not plan to run again in the upcoming May 2013 election.

Clark is preparing to lead her party into an election for the first time since she won the party leadership in February 2011, following the resignation of former premier Gordon Campbell.

Her leadership win managed to boost the B.C. Liberals in the polls to about 41 per cent for a short time, but since then polling numbers have shown a steady decline for the governing party down to 22 per cent popular support.

In recent months, a total of 13 sitting Liberal MLA's have confirmed they will not run in the next election.

On Tuesday, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom announced his departure from provincial politics as of next May's election, following earlier announcements from two backbench Liberals, Joan McIntyre and Rob Howard.

Last week, cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, George Abbott, Mary McNeil and former cabinet minister John Les announced they wouldn't be seeking re-election.