November 18, 2019

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Pallister shuffles cabinet, adds two portfolios

Premier Brian Pallister added two new members to his inner circle, shifted the responsibilities of some ministers, but left several key appointees untouched in his first cabinet shuffle since winning re-election last month.

During a ceremony Wednesday at the Manitoba Museum, backbench MLAs Sarah Guillemard (Fort Richmond) and Reg Helwer (Brandon West) were elevated to cabinet.

Fresh faces

• Reg Helwer (Brandon West) becomes minister of central services, responsible for modernizing government services and overseeing the Civil Service Commission.

• Sarah Guillemard (Fort Richmond) becomes minister of conservation and climate, also responsible for overseeing new Crown corporation Efficiency Manitoba.

• Reg Helwer (Brandon West) becomes minister of central services, responsible for modernizing government services and overseeing the Civil Service Commission.

• Sarah Guillemard (Fort Richmond) becomes minister of conservation and climate, also responsible for overseeing new Crown corporation Efficiency Manitoba.

New portfolios

• Rochelle Squires (Riel) is the new minister of municipal relations and francophone affairs.

• Jeff Wharton (Red River North) retains his role as minister of Crown services, which he picked up last month after former minister Colleen Mayer lost her bid for re-election.

• Blaine Pedersen (Midland) becomes minister of agriculture and resource development, responsible for watershed districts, forestry, mining and wildlife management.

• Ralph Eichler (Lakeside) will be minister of economic development and training, which will include oversight of post-secondary education and immigration.

• Cathy Cox (Kildonan-River East) becomes the minister responsible for status of women, along with sport, culture and heritage.

Staying put

• Brian Pallister (Fort Whyte) will carry on as president of executive council and minister of intergovernmental affairs.

• Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo) holds onto the families portfolio.

• Cameron Friesen (Morden-Winkler) stays on as health, seniors and active living minister.

• Cliff Cullen (Spruce Woods) retains his role as justice minister and attorney general.

• Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach) continues as education minister, but will no longer oversee post-secondary education or immigration (files transferred to Eichler’s department).

• Eileen Clarke (Agassiz) carries on as minister responsible for Indigenous relations.

• Ron Schuler (Springfield-Ritchot) continues as infrastructure minister.

• Scott Fielding (Kirkfield Park) keeps his job as finance minister.

Guillemard, a second-term MLA, takes on the new department of conservation and climate (formerly Sustainable Development), while Helwer, a third-term MLA, will run the new department of central services.

Rochelle Squires, who used to run Sustainable Development, takes over municipal relations, becoming the government's point person in dealings with the City of Winnipeg.

Jeff Wharton, the former municipal relations minister who added the Crown services portfolio to his duties a few weeks ago (after Colleen Mayer failed to win re-election), will continue in the latter role. It includes oversight over Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. and Manitoba Public Insurance.

Pallister said his new cabinet will focus on Manitobans' top priorities.

Premier Brian Pallister didn't make changes in the heaviest portfolios, including health, finance, families, Indigenous relations and infrastructure. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

Premier Brian Pallister didn't make changes in the heaviest portfolios, including health, finance, families, Indigenous relations and infrastructure. (John Woods / The Canadian Press)

"This is central to what our objectives are, what I think Manitobans want us to do and focus on. The very things that Manitobans focus on in day-to-day life — trying to get excellent value for the money you worked so hard to earn — is part of the service Manitoba agenda going forward," he said.

The premier not only placed ministers in new roles, but did some tinkering with the departments themselves.

Ralph Eichler leaves agriculture for the new department of economic development and training, which will combine with post-secondary education, as well as immigration.

Blaine Pedersen, previously minister of the now-defunct growth, enterprise and trade, assumes responsibility for agriculture and resource development, a large, new ministry that includes watershed districts, forestry, mining, fish and wildlife management.

Pallister kept several key ministers in their old portfolios, including Cameron Friesen in health, Cliff Cullen in justice, Scott Fielding in finance, Heather Stefanson in families, and Kelvin Goertzen in education.

Goertzen will solely focus on kindergarten to Grade 12 schooling now, with the province in the midst of an education review.

Sarah Guillemard, MLA for Fort Richmond, was sworn in as minister for the new Department of Conservation and Climate, a single department charged with environmental and climate stewardship.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sarah Guillemard, MLA for Fort Richmond, was sworn in as minister for the new Department of Conservation and Climate, a single department charged with environmental and climate stewardship.

Guillemard will take over delivery of Manitoba's climate and green plan. She was non-committal on whether the province would keep up its carbon tax court fight with Ottawa.

"Fighting doesn't come up with any solutions. So what we're going to look for is collaboration with a number of different members of other governments. And we're going to come up with a solution that works not only for Manitoba, but for the whole country," she said Wednesday.

Guillemard will also assume responsibility for the new Crown corporation, Efficiency Manitoba, which is to take over the delivery of energy-efficiency programming from Manitoba Hydro in the spring.

Helwer's new department will focus on the modernization of government services, including procurement, information technology and shared services. He will also be responsible for the Civil Service Commission.

Helwer becomes the first minister from Brandon since Pallister formed his first cabinet in May 2016 (although Cullen's Spruce Woods constituency surrounded the city and, with recent redistribution, now takes in a small portion of it).

Reg Helwer, MLA for Brandon West, was sworn in as minister for the new Department of Central Services.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Reg Helwer, MLA for Brandon West, was sworn in as minister for the new Department of Central Services.

Squires rejected the notion she was appointed to thaw relations between the government and the City of Winnipeg. She said Wharton did an excellent job.

"I've always had a really good working relationship with my civic counterparts, as has our government," she said. "We have had a lot of really heavy issues to work with in regards to our relations with the City of Winnipeg, and I'm looking forward to the challenges."

Mayor Brian Bowman tweeted he's "appreciated Squires' accessibility on files in the past," and is pleased to see a minister from Winnipeg in the role.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Pallister's decision to retain Friesen and Goertzen in health and education, respectively, is bad news for Manitobans.

"With ministers Goertzen and Friesen staying put, it means we can expect more cuts to health care and education," he said. "That's the direction that Pallister has set so far, and the fact that he's leaving those two ministers in place means that we're going to see more of the same."

With Wednesday's appointments, the Progressive Conservative cabinet grows to 15 members (including the premier), an increase of one over its size prior to the election in September.

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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, October 23, 2019 at 7:32 PM CDT: Adds nu photos.

7:38 PM: Fixes typo

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