North

N.W.T. premier shuffles cabinet heading in to last stretch of term

Three cabinet ministers are involved in the shuffle, which is happening with about a year and a half left in the government's term.

Ministers Caroline Cochrane, Alfred Moses swap portfolios, Robert C. McLeod takes on power corporation

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod shuffled his cabinet Wednesday, with little more than a year left until the next scheduled election. (Justin Tang/CP)

Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod announced he's shuffled his cabinet with about 18 months left in the government's term.

Three cabinet ministers are involved in the change: Caroline Cochrane, Alfred Moses and Robert C. Mcleod.

Cochrane and Moses are swapping portfolios, with Cochrane taking over the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

Moses takes over the Municipal and Community Affairs Department, and is responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, Homelessness and the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission of the N.W.T. and Nunavut.

Cochrane remains the minister responsible for the status of women and Moses remains minister responsible for youth in addition to their new roles.

McLeod adds the responsibility for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation to his other roles as Deputy Premier, Finance Minister and Minister of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The power corporation had previously been the responsibility of Louis Sebert, who will remain the Justice Minister

The premier announced the shuffle in a media release Wednesday, before the official changeover at 5 p.m.

Robert C. McLeod will add the responsibility of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation to the roles of Deputy Premier, Environment and Natural Resources Minister, and Finance Minister. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

"As we enter in the last full fiscal year of the 18th Legislative Assembly, our government remains committed to fulfilling the commitments we set at the beginning of the term," McLeod said in the release, adding that the changes will help deliver the government's priorities.

CBC News requested an interview with the premier, or either of the three ministers involved in the shuffle Wednesday, but a cabinet spokeswoman said no one was available.

'It's a positive change': MLA

Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green tweeted out her congratulations to Cochrane on Twitter shortly after the announcement.

"What [Cochrane] was able to do at the N.W.T. Housing Corporation is to take a really entrenched department and lead them into a new way of doing things," Green said.

"She started all these new initiatives with a suite of possibilities instead of saying 'this is the way we do things.' I look forward to her bringing that can-do attitude to [the Education Department]." 

"Unfortunately when Minister Moses had the portfolio, these things seemed to be floundering." - Kevin O'Reilly

Cochrane takes over the department as it continues an overview of Aurora College and prepares to overhaul the graduation requirements for high school students throughout the territory. 

"It's a positive change. It's a large and complex department," Green said.  

Alfred Moses takes over a number of portfolios from Caroline Cochrane. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

'I wish it had happened six months ago' 

The cabinet shuffle comes about six months after the government went through a public review process where MLAs grilled cabinet ministers about their performance during the first half of the mandate.

Sebert was the only cabinet minister to lose October's the confidence vote, but Moses also faced a number questions from MLAs about his handling of the education file.

Moses led the Education Department as it went through a rocky implementation of junior kindergarten, cut funding to the social work program at Aurora College, and started a "foundational review" of the college that's been questioned in the Legislative Assembly.

"It's a good move, I just wish it had happened six months ago," said Kevin O'Reilly, the MLA for Frame Lake in Yellowknife. 

"There's a number of important things happening in Education, Culture and Employment," he said, noting the education discussion paper, changes at Aurora College and changes for high school students. 

"Unfortunately when Minister Moses had the portfolio, these things seemed to be floundering." 

Caroline Cochrane, left, answers questions from MLAs during a meeting about 911 services on Thursday at the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly. She's taking over the Education, Culture and Employment Department. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

In his new role as the housing minister, Moses will be expected to shepherd through new laws leftover from Cochrane's time on the housing file, O'Reilly said.

With the next sitting of the legislature in May, all three ministers will have three weeks to familiarize themselves with their new jobs before having to take questions from regular MLAs in the Legislative Assembly.

Meanwhile Wednesday, Premier McLeod also announced that Catherine MacQuarrie has been appointed the deputy secretary for federal engagement in the Executive and Indigenous Affairs Department.

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