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New premier to unveil roster

Promises smaller cabinet than NDP; longtime Tories to get most spots

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Premier-designate Brian Pallister at the first full caucus meeting of a new Progressive Conservative government in the Manitoba Legislative Building Wednesday.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Premier-designate Brian Pallister at the first full caucus meeting of a new Progressive Conservative government in the Manitoba Legislative Building Wednesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/5/2016 (1202 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s new premier played university basketball, was a champion curler and a renowned fastball pitcher. He knows a bit about successful teams.

However, choosing 12 cabinet ministers from a roster of 40 players will be a challenge for Brian Pallister. There will be sure bets, some surprise winners and possibly a couple of sore losers, too.

Pallister will reveal his lineup this morning when he and his cabinet are sworn in at a ceremony in the Garden of Contemplation at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

His cabinet will be one-third smaller than Greg Selinger’s outgoing group, which numbered 18. Pallister had promised in the first fiscal year, his government would save $5 million by having fewer ministers — likely 12 — and fewer high-ranking bureaucrats.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/5/2016 (1202 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba’s new premier played university basketball, was a champion curler and a renowned fastball pitcher. He knows a bit about successful teams.

However, choosing 12 cabinet ministers from a roster of 40 players will be a challenge for Brian Pallister. There will be sure bets, some surprise winners and possibly a couple of sore losers, too.

Pallister will reveal his lineup this morning when he and his cabinet are sworn in at a ceremony in the Garden of Contemplation at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

His cabinet will be one-third smaller than Greg Selinger’s outgoing group, which numbered 18. Pallister had promised in the first fiscal year, his government would save $5 million by having fewer ministers — likely 12 — and fewer high-ranking bureaucrats.

He will face the same challenges all premiers do in attempting to represent the entire province.

Notably, among the 40 Tories elected on April 19, just eight are women.

An aide to the premier-designate said Monday Pallister was inspired to hold the cabinet swearing-in ceremony at the national museum after spending quiet moments of reflection there with his wife, Esther, on the day of the televised debate a week before the April 19 election.

"Our selection of (the museum) as the venue is reflective of our government’s recognition of the importance of trust, compassion, common sense, inclusion and teamwork as we take on the challenging task of putting Manitoba back on track," the aide said.

The premier and members of cabinet will be sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon at 10 a.m. Guests will be welcomed with a traditional greeting by an aboriginal elder. The Winnipeg Youth Chorus group, Enharmony, will perform.

 

❚ ❚ ❚

 

Veteran MLAs are expected to get most of the cabinet posts initially, but expect a few rookies to make the cut, especially Winnipeggers, since Pallister’s returning crew hails mainly from outside Winnipeg.

Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach), Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo), Reg Helwer (Brandon West) and Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler) are among the safest bets to land a prized cabinet post and its $50,930 in additional pay. The basic MLA salary is $93,025.

The challenge for Pallister is going be balancing representation among his 40-member caucus, said Kelly Saunders, an associate professor of political science at Brandon University.

The rural seats, often seen as the party’s bedrock, cannot be ignored, but Pallister will have to consider gender and experience as he makes his choices, Saunders said.

He also can’t forget the rookies who helped his team reach its majority.

"So that does mean having women at the table. It also means geographic balance as much as possible — making sure he has his rural base represented… but he has a lot of new MLAs from Winnipeg and obviously, Winnipeg is a major player," she said.

Kelly Bindle (Thompson), the Tories’ first MLA in the north in decades, has a shot at landing a role in Pallister’s inner circle as a rookie, Saunders said.

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>The premier’s office at the Manitoba legislature awaits its new occupant.</p>

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The premier’s office at the Manitoba legislature awaits its new occupant.

With the PCs coming close in other northern constituencies, such as Kewatinook and The Pas, Saunders thinks propping up Bindle could pay off in the next election.

Political scientist and author Chris Adams said he likes the chances of Morris MLA Shannon Martin, a former local director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, landing in cabinet.

The only rookie Adams thinks is a strong bet is former Winnipeg city councillor Scott Fielding. Fielding could wind up the minister responsible for municipal government, he said.

Of the party’s 40-member caucus, 24 are fresh faces, eight are women and two identify as indigenous. Adams said while Pallister has not promised gender parity, "He’s going to want a significant number of women in cabinet."

❚ ❚ ❚

The Tories will have been preparing for the transition to power for many months, said Barbara Biggar, a senior adviser to former premier Gary Filmon and his director of cabinet communications from the time he took power in 1988 to 1994.

"Typically, it’s many months before," said Biggar, president and CEO of Biggar Ideas public relations firm.

The Filmon transition team consisted of two people, Biggar said Monday. Pallister has eight people on his transition team.

"I’m told there have been meetings with dozens of people in the room," she said.

Biggar said secrecy is paramount around the unveiling of the cabinet. "Every premier-designate is different. Normally, calls are made very near to (the swearing-in day) — some may be today (Monday)."

Prospective ministers know to keep silent, Biggar said. They may have staff in mind, but no one gets told until the minister has been sworn in, she said.

Biggar said it won’t be a problem that two-thirds of the Conservative caucus will not be in cabinet. "Brian Pallister is a competitive sports figure — he knows about the team... He’ll approach this as a team endeavour, getting as many people involved as possible."

Biggar said there will be a Speaker (elected in a secret ballot on the first day of a new legislative session) and deputy speaker, government whip, house leader and deputy, caucus chair and deputy, six legislative assistants, and chairs of at least nine standing committees. 

Pallister has promised to form task forces to cut red tape and find waste and duplication in government spending.

"MLAs can serve on the boards of Crown corporations," Biggar pointed out. "There are a lot of jobs for people — it’s all hands on deck."

❚ ❚ ❚

The new session of the legislature will begin May 16. The first order of business is the election of the Speaker, followed by the throne speech. The Tory caucus said Monday it is endorsing Myrna Driedger (Charleswood) as Speaker. Driedger, who was elected in 1998, is one of the longest-serving MLAs in Manitoba.

 

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

kristin.annable@freepress.mb.ca

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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.

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History

Updated on Monday, May 2, 2016 at 6:37 PM CDT: Fixes formatting.

7:04 PM: Updates after caucus issues release on Myrna Driedger.

7:17 PM: Adds archive images

7:32 PM: Formatting.

7:52 PM: Corrects typo.

11:11 PM: Updates with writethru, changes headline.

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