Manitoba

New faces and new departments as Manitoba's cabinet sworn in

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's new cabinet, which was sworn in Wednesday morning, includes two new faces and a lot of shuffling.

Premier Brian Pallister shuffles existing ministers to new portfolios

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister swore in a new cabinet Wednesday morning. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's new cabinet includes two new faces and a lot of shuffling.

New faces in the Progressive Conservative government's cabinet, sworn in Wednesday morning, include Brandon West MLA Reg Helwer, who will be the minister of central services — a new department "designed to focus on modernization of government services including procurement, information technology and shared services," the province said in a news release.

Helwer will also be the minister responsible for the civil service commission. 

Fort Richmond MLA Sarah Guillemard is another first-time minister in the newly created Department of Conservation and Climate. 

Pallister, whose government was re-elected last month, campaigned in 2016 on having a smaller cabinet to save money. He said Wednesday appointing two new ministers made sense, and his cabinet is still smaller than the 19-member cabinet of the former NDP government.

"Cabinet making, as you know, is kind of alchemy meets Rubik's cube.… I'm blessed with a great number of caucus members of incredible talent and great diversity," Pallister said.

Rochelle Squires remains in cabinet but with the new role of municipal relations minister, which Jeff Wharton previously held. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Pallister also shuffled some existing ministers to new portfolios. Former agriculture minister Ralph Eichler is now the minister of economic development and training — a new department, which will oversee post-secondary education.

Midland MLA Blaine Pedersen will take over from Eichler in the new Department of Agriculture and Resource Development, an expanded department that will focus on agriculture and natural resources.

Squires tasked with municipal relations

Rochelle Squires remains in cabinet but with the new role of municipal relations minister, which Jeff Wharton previously held. 

Pallister was asked if appointing Squires to the role will help the relationship between the City of Winnipeg and province.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has called the province out for its handling of the meth problem and road repair funding, and has said it's easier to get a meeting with the prime minister than Pallister.

The premier rejected the notion the relationship between the two governments has been fractured.

"As far as the municipal relationship, we've had an ongoing very good relationship with every municipality and the City of Winnipeg. We'll continue to build on that with Minister Squires," he told reporters Wednesday.

Looking forward to 'refreshed' relationship 

Bowman tweeted his congratulations and said he's looking forward to a "refreshed" relationship with all the ministers, noting he's appreciated Squires's accessibility on files in the past.

For her part, Squires said she's always had a good working relationship with her civic counterparts.

"We have had a lot of really heavy issues to work with in regards to our relations with the City of Winnipeg, and I'm looking forward to those challenges."

Fort Richmond MLA Sarah Guillemard is a first-time minister, in the newly created department of conservation and climate. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Squires retains her role as the minister responsible for francophone affairs; she was previously the minister of sustainable development.

Wharton will have a lighter portfolio going forward and will remain the minister of Crown services. Colleen Mayer previously held the position but lost her seat to NDP rookie Jamie Moses during the provincial election. 

Cathy Cox is the new minister for the status of women, while retaining her current duties as minister for sport, culture and heritage. 

Ministers with key portfolios remain

Several MLAs in Pallister's cabinet will keep their current portfolios. Those include:

  • Families Minister Heather Stefanson, who will also serve as deputy premier. 
  • Health Minister Cameron Friesen.
  • Justice Minister Cliff Cullen. 
  • Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen.
  • Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clark.
  • Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler.
  • Finance Minister Scott Fielding.

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said in a tweet that Pallister's cabinet shuffle "shows it's still full steam ahead on cuts to Education & Health."

The NDP has changed its shadow cabinet in response to Wednesday's shuffle. MLA Nello Altomare will now be the critic for K-12 education, while Moses will be the critic for economic development and training.

New faces and new departments as Manitoba's cabinet is sworn in. 1:44

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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