April 21, 2019

Winnipeg
8° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Pallister injects 'new energy' into cabinet with shuffle

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/8/2018 (263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Premier Brian Pallister shifted key cabinet ministers to new roles Wednesday, while adding one new face and — in a surprise move — dropping a minister who was generally regarded as an able performer.

Midway through his government's mandate, Pallister injected new blood atop the health, education, justice, finance and families departments.

He also improved the cabinet's gender balance by naming St. Vital MLA Colleen Mayer as minister responsible for Crown services.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/8/2018 (263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Premier Brian Pallister shifted key cabinet ministers to new roles Wednesday, while adding one new face and — in a surprise move — dropping a minister who was generally regarded as an able performer.

Midway through his government's mandate, Pallister injected new blood atop the health, education, justice, finance and families departments.

He also improved the cabinet's gender balance by naming St. Vital MLA Colleen Mayer as minister responsible for Crown services.

Rookie MLA vaults into cabinet

Premier Brian Pallister appointed one fresh face to his cabinet Wednesday: first-term MLA Colleen Mayer is now Minister of Crown Services.

Premier Brian Pallister appointed one fresh face to his cabinet Wednesday: first-term MLA Colleen Mayer is now Minister of Crown Services.

Mayer represents St. Vital and won her riding by a narrow margin – 398 votes – in 2016. Her seat was previously held by NDP MLA Nancy Allan for 17 years. It’s widely seen as a swing seat in southeast Winnipeg. 

Raising Mayer’s profile with a cabinet position may help her secure a repeat win next election, political scientist Paul Thomas pointed out.

Pallister cited Mayer’s ambition and her earned respect among colleagues as reasons for her promotion.

“Colleen has just absolutely impressed everybody. You can tell by the response from her colleagues today, I think, that it’s not just affection,” the premier said, referring to the loud rounds of applause Mayer earned during her swearing-in ceremony.

“We have tremendous affection for each other on our team, but it’s more than that. It’s an appreciation for her work ethic, it’s an appreciation for her dedication to every task that she was assigned.”

Mayer previously served as government whip, and prior to that, was a member of the Treasury Board and assistant deputy speaker.

She takes on one of the most drama-filled portfolios, which includes oversight of Manitoba Hydro. The province’s largest Crown corporation is billions of dollars in debt and just lost its CEO, Kelvin Shepherd, as he plans to retire in November. The province also appointed a new Hydro board this year after the last board resigned en masse in March.

Asked how she planned to steer the Hydro ship, Mayer said discussions are imminent.

“I’ve been sworn in for all of 20 minutes. I have to meet with my department, I need to get up to speed on what’s on my file and where things are at. So I look forward to doing that,” she said. “There’s lots of challenges, for sure. But there’s opportunity as well. So I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting into that.”

Mayer also reiterated Wednesday that she is proud of her Métis heritage and is a card-carrying member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

The MMF is currently trying to take the province to court over a quashed $67.5-million deal related to a Manitoba-Minnesota Hydro transmission line.

Mayer said she does not know MMF president David Chartrand personally, but looks forward to working with him.

Chartrand wished Mayer well with her new job, but feared she would represent more of the same from the Pallister government. So far, Cliff Cullen (the new justice minister and attorney general) and Ron Schuler (who stays on as infrastructure minister) have already taken turns overseeing Crown Services since the PCs took office.

“If you look at the kind of historical pattern of Pallister, it’s a very centralized control government, where everything flows through his office. Without his permission, nothing moves,” Chartrand said.

“So changing names, changing portfolios and titles is not going to change anything unless they’re realizing that the leash is being released – people are actually going to be allowed to be ministers and allowed to govern.”

Before being elected as MLA, Mayer served as a school trustee with the Louis Riel School Division and was the executive director of the Old St. Vital Business Improvement Zone. She also worked at city hall in Winnipeg and lives in the Elm Park neighbourhood with her husband Cory and their two children.

Interlake MLA Derek Johnson will replace Mayer as the government whip.

--Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Dropped from cabinet was Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart, who had served as education minister.

"We have an opportunity with this shift to present some new energy in a variety of portfolios," Pallister said following a 30-minute swearing-in ceremony at the legislature. "Every portfolio is an opportunity to make a difference and that’s why you get into public life."

Kelvin Goertzen, who has shepherded the government's far-reaching health reforms, moves to education from health.

Heather Stefanson leaves justice to become the new families minister. Cameron Friesen leaves finance for health, seniors and active living. Cliff Cullen, who held the Crowns portfolio, becomes the justice minister and attorney general Scott Fielding becomes finance minister after serving as minister of families.

As he explained his decision to switch Goertzen to a new portfolio, Pallister noted that the job of health minister can be onerous.

"...Health is one that can actually wear on someone. I think we should be honest about that. The normal tenure for a health minister is not much longer than two years anywhere in the country," he told reporters.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, right, waits to lead his ministers into the cabinet shuffle announcement at the Manitoba Legislature.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, right, waits to lead his ministers into the cabinet shuffle announcement at the Manitoba Legislature.

The premier added, however, that Goertzen is "getting less of a break than he might anticipate." He is moving one of his most trusted ministers into education at a time when his government is poised to launch "a thorough review" of the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system in advance of anticipated major reforms.

If Mayer, the rookie MLA for St. Vital, was the major winner in Wednesday's cabinet shuffle, Wishart, first elected in 2011, was the big loser as the only member of cabinet to lose his job.

As his colleagues took their oaths of office, Wishart applauded as he sat beside his caucus colleagues. Afterwards, he said he agreed with the premier's decision to place him in a new role outside cabinet.

"He had a great pool of talent to draw on. He needs to do that," Wishart said. He said he plans to run for re-election in 2020.

Pallister announced that Wishart will work alongside Goertzen in shepherding the government's education reforms. Wishart will be Goertzen's legislative assistant and will co-ordinate the system review.

Asked if he had been disappointed with Wishart's performance in cabinet, Pallister said "not in the least."

"I think that Ian brings to this new responsibility a level of personal experience and dedication that, frankly, I think is unparallelled," the premier said. He added that Wishart has "already enthusiastically embraced" his new role.

The reaction

What the NDP said:

NDP MLA Andrew Swan said moving Kelvin Goertzen from health to education likely means major restructuring for the latter portfolio. He said he is uneasy about Goertzen’s replacement in health -- former finance minister Cameron Friesen.

What the NDP said:

NDP MLA Andrew Swan said moving Kelvin Goertzen from health to education likely means major restructuring for the latter portfolio. He said he is uneasy about Goertzen’s replacement in health -- former finance minister Cameron Friesen.

“So we’re taking a very savvy politician, Kelvin Goertzen, who has been the face of a lot of the chaos in the health care system, he’s been moved to education. Our fear is that he’s going to be expected to play the same role in education and make deep cuts in addition to what’s already happened,” Swan said.

“The new health minister, Cameron Friesen, was the finance minister. He boasted proudly – in this building and everywhere – about the money that they’ve saved in health care by cutting services to Manitobans. I’m worried and I think all Manitobans should be worried about what’s coming next.”

What the Liberals said:

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont expressed concern at the appointment of a cabinet rookie in Colleen Mayer to the Crown Services portfolio, where she will be responsible for Manitoba Hydro. He said the role, which includes trying to smooth an ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Manitoba Métis Federation, would have been better left to an experienced minister.

Lamont said the departure from cabinet of former education minister Ian Wishart means that Pallister’s inner circle will lose some of its “moderate edge.”

“I think Ian Wishart is a fairly moderate person who’s certainly deeply concerned about the CFS (Child and Family Services) file. And he’s been shuffled to the backbench, so you’ve certainly lost a moderate voice around the cabinet table,” Lamont said.

“And in terms of the other major ministries, you’ve seen a push towards more hard core, ideological conservatives. So it’s a doubling down as far as I’m concerned and putting the province in, what I see, as the wrong direction.”

What business said:

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Loren Remillard called the shuffle "more of tuneup" than an overhaul.

He noted that Pallister brought in only one new MLA into his inner circle, showing that he is satisfied with his core leadership group.

“The portfolios may have changed but the people, effectively, did not,” he said.

Remillard also noted that Scott Fielding is no stranger to finance, having effectively served as "the city's finance minister" when he was a member of Winnipeg city council. 

What labour said:

Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, reacted positively to Pallister’s shuffle and his mention during a prepared speech about working with organized labour to improve services.

“This, I think, is going to be the government’s opportunity to reboot and to reconsider the unnecessary cuts and privatizations to services that they’ve been planning,” she said.

“I’m offering again, as I have for the last two-and-a half-years, that my door is open," Gawronsky said. "I welcome the opportunity to sit down, talk to the premier, talk to any of the ministers about the services that our members do provide and what I’m hearing from Manitobans. Let’s take a common sense approach on how these services are maintained.”

While Goertzen had been rumoured to be wanting a change, he said he took great satisfaction from the demanding health role — one that was especially challenging as the government initiated a revamping of the Winnipeg hospital system that will continue over the next year.

"I think it will actually be the honour of my life to have been able to serve as the minister of health," he said. He noted that apart from his counterparts in Alberta and Quebec, he had been the country's longest serving health minister, having been handed the job in May, 2016.

With the cabinet changes, Pallister continues to lead a relatively small cabinet of 14 ministers, including himself. The cabinet now has five women, up from four previously. 

Although more than half the cabinet was left untouched in the shuffle, it was the first time in recent memory that so many major portfolios saw new ministers between elections. 

Asked if there wasn't a certain amount of risk in making so many changes to top cabinet positions simultaneously, Pallister expressed confidence in his group.

Ian Wishart, former Minister of Education and Training.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ian Wishart, former Minister of Education and Training.

"The people we're changing into these roles have demonstrated competence, demonstrated passion for the jobs they've been asked to undertake. And I expect to see that same competence and passion as we move forward," he said.

Continuing in their portfolios are:  Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton;  Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke;  Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler;  Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler;  Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen;  Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox;  and Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires. Stefanson retains the role of deputy premier.

 


Who's in, who's out

 

Stays in cabinet position

Moves position, stays in cabinet

Kicked out of cabinet

New to cabinet

Justice

Cliff Cullen

Heather

Stefanson

Finance

Cameron Friesen

Scott Fielding

Health

Kelvin Goertzen

Cameron Friesen

Crown services

Cliff Cullen

Colleen Mayer

Families

Heather Stefanson

Scott Fielding

Education and

training

Ian Wishart

Kelvin Goertzen

Agriculture

Ralph Eichler

Infrastructure

Ron Schuler

Growth, enterprise and

trade

Blaine Pedersen

Indigenous and

northern relations

Eileen Clarke

Sport, culture

and heritage

Cathy Cox

Sustainable

development

Rochelle Squires

Municipal relations

Jeff Wharton

Stays in cabinet position

Moves position, stays in cabinet

Kicked out of cabinet

New to cabinet

Justice

Finance

Cameron Friesen

Cliff Cullen

Heather Stefanson

Scott Fielding

Crown services

Health

Cliff Cullen

Colleen Mayer

Kelvin Goertzen

Cameron Friesen

Minister of families

Education and training

Ian Wishart

Heather Stefanson

Scott Fielding

Kelvin Goertzen

Agriculture

Infrastructure

Ron Schuler

Ralph Eichler

Growth, enterprise

and trade

Indigenous and northern relations

Blaine Pedersen

Eileen Clarke

Sport, culture

and heritage

Sustainable

development

Rochelle Squires

Cathy Cox

Municipal relations

Jeff Wharton

Graphic: Graeme Bruce / Winnipeg Free Press


 

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Legislature reporter

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Read full biography

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read full biography

History

Updated on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 2:35 PM CDT: adds pictures

3:07 PM: Adds graphic, details

3:53 PM: adds photos

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.