New Brunswick

Brian Gallant warns ministers to perform or risk demotion

Premier Brian Gallant unveiled his new, smaller cabinet on Tuesday afternoon but he didn’t wait long to warn his 12 new ministers that they better perform at a high standard or risk being demoted.

New Brunswick premier says he will re-evaluate his cabinet in 18 months

Finance Minister Roger Melanson. left, and Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. (CBC)

Premier Brian Gallant unveiled his new, smaller cabinet on Tuesday afternoon but he didn’t wait long to warn his 12 new ministers that they better perform at a high standard or risk being demoted.

Gallant appointed just twelve ministers, giving the Liberal premier the smallest cabinet since 1965.

He said he expects everyone to perform at a higher standard and in about 18 months, he will reassess how the ministers are achieving their objectives.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau will also take on the role of minister responsible for the program spending review. (CBC)
"We'll decide if we should increase the number, decrease the number or stay the same,” Gallant said.

“We'll obviously decide on the individuals that should be involved in that cabinet. And we'll also see how the portfolios are going, if some should have more, less or none at all."

The lean cabinet means several ministers will be responsible for more than one portfolio.

Dieppe’s Roger Melanson will be minister of finance and minister of transportation and infrastructure.

The dual role means Melanson will be responsible for both cutting the province’s deficit and deciding how to spend the six-year, $900 million infrastructure program that the Liberals committed to during the campaign.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau will have to deal with the province’s largest department in terms of spending, but he will also have to immediately deal with the promise to review barriers to abortion services in New Brunswick.

On top of those jobs, Boudreau is also the minister responsible for the program spending review, which is expected to start saving $250 million a year, starting in 18 months.

Attorney General Serge Rouselle, left, and Public Safety Minister Stephen Horsman are two rookie MLAs, who were given large portfolios on Tuesday. Horsman will also serve as the deputy premier. (CBC)
Two rookie MLAs were also given significant portfolios by the premier.

Fredericton North MLA Stephen Horsman will be the deputy premier as well the minister of public safety and minister of justice. The departments of public safety and justice have normally been separate.

Horsman, a former Fredericton police officer, was the only Liberal elected in the Fredericton area.

Tracadie-Sheila's Serge Rousselle will be the province’s attorney general and also the minister of education and early childhood development.

Rouselle is the only lawyer, other than Gallant, in the Liberal caucus, which made him an obvious choice for attorney general.

Gallant’s Liberals won 27 seats in the Sept. 22 election, meaning just under half of the caucus members have a position in cabinet.

Gallant announces legislative positions

Along with the cabinet jobs, Gallant also announced several other legislative positions on Tuesday.

Premier Brian Gallant named a 13-person cabinet on Tuesday. He also named several MLAs to legislative positions. (CBC)
Gallant said the Liberals will support Moncton Centre’s Chris Collins, a former local government minister in the Shawn Graham government, for Speaker.

MLAs elect the legislature’s Speaker in a secret ballot, so it isn’t appointed directly by the premier. 

Lisa Harris, the first-time MLA from Miramichi Bay-Neguac, and Bernard LeBlanc, a former cabinet minister, will be appointed deputy Speakers.

Gallant tapped Hédard Albert as the Government house leader and chief government whip.

Albert will not sit in cabinet, however. Gallant said Albert will be invited to cabinet meetings when the government’s legislative agenda is discussed. 

Albert is a former cabinet minister from the Graham government, but in a smaller cabinet, Gallant had picked Rouselle and Natural Resources Minister Denis Landry and both of those ministers' ridings touch Albert’s Caraquet riding.

Two other first-time MLAs have been given formal, but non-cabinet level, positions.

Restigouche-Chaleur MLA-elect Daniel Guitard will serve as the deputy government whip and Moncton East MLA-elect Monique LeBlanc will be the chair of the government caucus.

MLAs will be sworn in on Oct. 24.

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