Saskatchewan

Sask. Premier shuffles three cabinet ministers, adds new portfolio for seniors

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has shuffled three cabinet positions.

Greg Ottenbreit off rural health, Ken Cheveldayoff off Provincial Capital Commission

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe stands with the three MLAs who gained new cabinet positions on Tuesday. (Fiona Odlum/CBC News)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has shuffled three cabinet positions.

At Government House on Tuesday, he announced that Greg Ottenbreit, Lori Carr and Warren Kaeding are switching their portfolios.

Greg Ottenbreit is shifting to Minister of Highways and Infrastructure — replacing Lori Carr in the role — and Minister Responsible for the Water Security Agency.

Ottenbreit was a longtime Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health. He was heavily criticized by the NDP in recent months during discussions about funding abortion pill Mifegymiso

He said the controversy didn't play into his shuffling. When asked if he took the move as disciplinary, he responded: "Not at all."

"I mean at the time there was no disciplinary action taken and the premier and I had some conversations about about my remarks and my pro-life views are something I'm very proud of. I will never back away from those," he said. "But recognizing I'm a member of the government and Executive Council, and I do support the policies of the government, but I'm still allowed to have my own views and voice my opinion."

Ottenbreit said his views didn't interfere with his ability to do the job, saying the way he approached his job and his relationships with stakeholders never changed. 

"The only difficulties I saw was a lot of the personal attacks and attacks on my family, which is disappointing and unfortunate," he said. "But in the day of media and social media today it's something that's to be expected and it's unfortunate that families have to take the brunt of that. But as an elected official, I walk into that and I can I can deal with that." 

Outside of that, he said he had "no regrets." 

Premier Moe also said Ottenbreit's remarks or stance on abortion did not play into the decision to remove him from the ministry. 

"This by no means is about Minister Ottenbreit or moving him out of rural and remote health," Moe told reporters.

"He served there, as I said, for an excess of five years. He formed some great relationships with stakeholders across the province. Many of those will cross over into the Ministry of Highways." 

Moe said many of the community leaders working on the rural and remote health file are also working on highway and infrastructure projects.

"What we see here today is a broader move, not a move specific to Minister Ottenbreit in anyway," he said. "This is a broader move that strengthens the cabinet that's serving the people of the province."

Lori Carr was one of three to switch roles in cabinet. (Fiona Odlum/CBC News)

Warren Kaeding is taking over the rural and remote health portfolio.

"Personally I'm pro life, but I'm here to ensure that government policy is implemented and we provide care that all of our residents in the province are looking forward to," Kaeding told reporters after the swearing-in.

NDP deputy leader Carla Beck was at the ceremony, and said her party is not taking issue with Kaeding's appointment because, unlike Ottenbreit, he has not made public statements about pro-life lobbying efforts.

Kaeding is also the new Minister Responsible for Seniors.

The seniors portfolio is new, the government said in a news release. It "ensures Saskatchewan seniors have a dedicated voice at the cabinet table," the release said.

"[I'm] Looking forward to the opportunity that I've been presented with, being a voice for seniors." Kaeding said.

Carr is now the Minister of Government Relations, taking over Kaeding's old role.

Carr, an MLA from Estevan, is also becoming Minister Responsible for the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), a role responsible for ensuring Regina "is a source of provincial pride and significance," according to the province's website. That role also oversees Wascana Park development.

"I believe you've seen through the portfolio I already had that I'm a bit of a relationship builder. I like to meet my stakeholders and see what their needs are," Carr said.

That means Ken Cheveldayoff, a past leadership hopeful to take over as premier after Brad Wall resigned, is out as the PCC Minister. Cheveldayoff remains in cabinet as Minister of Central Services and Minister Responsible for the Public Service Commission.

Carr is also now the Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs. Her constituency does not contain any First Nations.

Other notable role changes include MLA Todd Goudy becoming Provincial Secretary and Legislative Secretary to the Premier.

The provincial secretary role had been vacant since July when Nadine Wilson stepped down from the role after being charged with assault.

This is Moe's third cabinet shuffle since he took over the role of premier in early 2018.

Moe did a major cabinet shuffle in February 2018 and a small cabinet shuffle in August 2018.

With files from Fiona Odlum and Adam Hunter

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