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Cabinet shuffle or scuffle?

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Boy, I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the NDP caucus room.

I can only imagine what some NDP MLAs are thinking with Premier Greg Selinger’s cabinet shuffle made Friday.

Sure, everyone put on a smiley face for the swearing-in of the new ministers or those who were just switching offices.

But you’ve got to wonder what some of them are thinking inside, to be passed over again for a cabinet post and that bump in pay and prestige.

People like Brandon East MLA Drew Caldwell, Rossmere’s Erna Braun, The Maples' Mohinder Saran or Frank Whitehead in The Pas.

Sure, Saran and Caldwell, plus Tom Nevakshonoff, Greg Dewar, Rob Altemeyer and Sharon Blady, were recently made legislative assistants to senior ministers. The title carries some added responsibilities, but it doesn’t put them that much closer to making the big decisions around the cabinet table.

I bet each of them and others had to swallow a bit watching newly-elected Kevin Chief getting a cabinet post tailor-made to his talents; the post of children and youth opportunities. Chief is a perfect fit for the job of championing things like keeping kids in school and giving them a leg up in the world, but is his new assignment a sign some NDP ministers have gone beyond their best-before date?

The three key words in the government’s news release on the shuffle are found at the end of the last sentence: "create new energy."

I realize the next election is four years away and the opposition right now is as limp as a dead eel, but if Selinger wants to continue creating that new energy some of the more long-in-the-tooth NDP cabinet ministers need to draw up their retirement plans within the next couple of years. That will allow them to ease back and allow the young bloods waiting in the wings to move up and get some experience.

The NDP’s bullpen is full of ambitious folks, but I guess that’s the drawback to having 37 seats. You can only keep everyone singing from the same page for so long before someone goes out of tune.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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