Nova Scotia

Stephen McNeil shuffles cabinet, but vows not to change course

Premier Stephen McNeil has decided a near clean sweep is in order to start his second mandate.

Keith Colwell is the only minister to keep his old position without gaining any new responsibilities

Back row, left to right: Lena Diab, Labi Kousoulis, Mark Furey, Lloyd Hines, Margaret Miller, Patricia Arab, Iain Rankin, Derek Mombourquette. Front row, left to right: Karen Casey, Keith Colwell, Leo Glavine, Kelly Regan, Stephen McNeil, Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant, Geoff MacLellan, Zach Churchill, Randy Delorey, Tony Ince. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Premier Stephen McNeil has decided a near clean sweep is in order to start his second mandate.

He shuffled just about every cabinet job in government Thursday, handing key portfolios to Karen Casey, Zach Churchill and Randy Delorey.

Casey takes over at Finance and will be deputy premier, Delorey moves from Finance to Health, and Churchill takes over where Casey left off at Education.

Other important jobs were handed to Kelly Regan, who leaves Labour and Advanced Education to head up Community Services, and former RCMP officer Mark Furey, who becomes minister of Justice.

McNeil is also bringing fresh blood into his cabinet by naming Patricia Arab as minister of Internal Services, Iain Rankin as minister of Environment and former Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor Derek Mombourquette as minister of Municipal Affairs.

'Now is not the time to change course'

At a ceremony attended by hundreds of Liberal Party supporters, family and friends, the premier praised his caucus colleagues for agreeing to take on new responsibilities.

"Each member represents our geography, our diversity and our love of this province," he said in a prepared speech following the official swearing-in ceremony.

"And I have so much confidence in you and the members of our caucus that we continue to work with hardworking Nova Scotians to make this province all it can be."

Premier Stephen McNeil will be minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, aboriginal affairs, regulatory affairs and service effectiveness, military relations, and youth. (Canadian Press)

He also echoed a well-worn election campaign theme — which may be intended as a signal despite the change in ministers — that his government intends to maintain the direction set during its first mandate.

"Now is not the time to change course."

Health and education

Delorey, the newly appointed health minister, suggested changes were in order in his department, given the furore raised in some communities over a longstanding lack of medical resources.

"We have heard loud and clear about the need to do better in the area of primary care in particular, the area of mental health, and those are areas that we're certainly committed to working on," he said.

Churchill, the new education minister, talked about the need to do "repair work" when it comes to the relationship between the governing Liberals and teachers.

"They need to know that government cares about what their concerns are and that we're going to keep moving on them," he said. "And I think at the end of the day if we can all work together we're going to have a better system."

Have to say no sometimes

But Churchill made no pledge to change or withdraw the contract the governing Liberals imposed on teachers this past winter.

"Listen, we had tough labour negotiations, there's no question about that," he said. "That was for good reason in my opinion. Because we have to, as a government, say no sometimes and that leads to tensions but its been for a greater good."

McNeil has made Furey his government's minister of Labour Relations, a new department in charge of reaching collective agreements with public-sector workers. Thousands of civil servants, nurses and other health staff are without a contract and resent legislation passed, but not enacted, that could impose a contract on them.

Furey acknowledged that here too there's a need to re-establish a relationship with labour leaders.

"There's a need to rebuild relationships," he told reporters. "There's a need to be honest and frank and respectful."

A breakdown of the new cabinet

Randy Delorey moves from Finance to minister of Health and Wellness. He will also look after Gaelic Affairs. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
Karen Casey has been named minister of Finance and president of the executive council. She was previously education minister. (Robert Short/CBC)
Geoff MacLellan moves from Transportation to minister of Business, Energy, Service Nova Scotia and Trade. (CBC)
Zach Churchill has moved from Municipal Affairs and has been named minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. (CBC)
Keith Colwell remains the minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture. (CBC)
Margaret Miller moves from Environment to minister of Natural Resources. (CBC)
Lloyd Hines moves from Natural Resources to minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. (CBC)
Tony Ince moves from Communities, Culture and Heritage to minister of the Public Service Commission. He remains minister of African-Nova Scotian Affairs. (CBC)
Leo Glavine moves from Health to minister or Communities, Culture and Heritage. He will also be the minister for seniors and the voluntary sector. (CBC)
Lena Diab remains minister of immigration and will be the minister in charge of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie. (Robert Short/CBC)
Kelly Regan moves from Labour and Advanced Education to minister of Community Services and the minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)
Mark Furey moves from being the minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Affairs to Attorney General and minister of Justice. He is also minister of Labour Relations and the provincial secretary. (CBC)
Labi Kousoulis moves from Internal Services to minister of Labour and Advanced Education. (CBC)
Cape Breton MLA Derek Mombourquette has been named the minister of Municipal Affairs. (CBC)
Patricia Arab has been named minister of Internal Services and minister of Communications Nova Scotia. (CBC)
Iain Rankin has been appointed the minister of Environment. (CBC)


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.