Dwight Ball cagey about planned shakeup in premier's office staff

Premier Dwight Ball is planning changes to his senior staff and is poised to hire former Liberal staffer Greg Mercer in a senior role, Liberal sources tell CBC News - though all Ball said Tuesday was that Mercer "is certainly someone that we'll be talking to."

'It's important that you get some key people back in there,' Ball says

Sources say Dwight Ball is planning significant changes in the premier's office. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball is planning changes to his senior staff and is poised to hire former Liberal staffer Greg Mercer in a senior role, Liberal sources tell CBC News - though all Ball said Tuesday was that Mercer "is certainly someone that we'll be talking to."

The sources say Mercer could be brought on board as the new chief of staff to the premier, replacing current chief of staff Kelvin Parsons.

Mercer is currently working as a consultant. But he was part of former premier and federal cabinet minister Brian Tobin's staff and also held positions in the provincial bureaucracy.

Mercer is the son of former Liberal MHA Bob Mercer.

He has not yet responded to CBC's requests for comment. 

Sources describe the situation as "fluid" but say the hiring could be announced sometime this week.

Ball has plummeted in the polls just six months into office. He has already lost his deputy chief of staff Tim Murphy who resigned recently. Party insiders have complained about a lack of political experience and issues management ability at the top levels of government. 

Mercer is seen as someone who could "play the heavy" and shake things up at the top levels of government. 
Mercer has attempted to run for office in the past. In 2000 he unsuccessfully challenged Gerry Byrne for the federal Liberal nomination in Humber St. Barbe Baie Verte. Byrne is now a minister in the provincial government. 

'A little shy on staff'

The premier denied staffing shakeups have anything to do with lack of skill or experience among people in the Liberal office. 

"No, no, not at all. This speaks to, now we've got some positions that we need to fill there. And so right now that's exactly what this is all about."

Ball simply said they're bringing "new resources" into the office following his deputy chief of staff's departure.

"Right now we're a little shy on staff up there, of course, and we need to make sure that when you get key people out of your staff complement it's important that you get some key people back in there."   

According to Ball, there's "no animosity" in his relationship with Parsons.

"Kelvin Parsons will always be around, whatever the capacity is right now, we have not had that discussion yet but we'll be having that discussion in the next few days. And what the future for Kelvin is and for whoever comes in."

Corrections

  • A prior version of this story incorrectly said that former MHA Bob Mercer had died. He is, indeed, very much alive. CBC News regrets the error.
    May 31, 2016 1:01 PM NT

About the Author

David Cochrane

CBC News

David Cochrane is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary bureau. He previously wrote for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.