New faces and new departments as Manitoba's cabinet sworn in
Premier Brian Pallister shuffles existing ministers to new portfolios
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.
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.
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."
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.