Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning Sonny Gallant left, signs the oath of office after his swearing in to cabinet Wednesday at Government House in Charlottetown He signed the papers alongside Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis, right, as Premier Wade MacLauchlan looked on.
©Ryan Ross/TC Media
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Richard Brown is out of cabinet after Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced a shuffle Wednesday afternoon.
In his place, Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant and Alberton-Roseville MLA Pat Murphy join cabinet with a new portfolio added.
MacLauchlan called it a mid-mandate adjustment.
In response to a question asking why Brown was shuffled out, MacLauchlan said it’s important to have members of caucus with experience who can work with other MLAs on other business of the legislature.
“There’s a lot more to governing than cabinet,” he said.
Gallant takes over Brown’s former role as minister of workforce and advanced learning while Murphy takes on the new rural and regional development portfolio.
Both men were first elected in 2007 and neither held cabinet positions before the shuffle.
Brown was first elected to the legislature in 1997 and is the longest serving MLA in the current Liberal caucus.
The new department will focus on rural and regional development initiatives related to the economy, population, community and growth.
Murphy’s new portfolio brings the number of cabinet positions to 11.
After news of the shuffle, Opposition Leader Jamie Fox was quick to respond.
“Today’s changes to the cabinet are the clearest sign yet of a tired, third-term government in turmoil that has lost its way in the face of scandal and public opposition to its school closure plans,” Fox said.
MacLauchlan was also asked if the new department was in response to criticism the government has faced about its treatment of rural P.E.I. in the wake of possible school closures.
“It’s recognition that there is a dialog or a debate to which we can and should contribute and to which we should be responsive,” he said.
Murphy has been vocal in his opposition to school closure recommendations and was asked if there is anything he can do in cabinet to have an influence on the process.
“I think I’m certainly in a better position today to do something about it then I was yesterday,” he said.
For Gallant, he said he was honoured to be in cabinet.
“It’s a very serious position and I look forward to it,” he said.
Don Desserud, a UPEI political science professor, said it looked like a normal tweaking government would do at this point in its mandate.
“Nothing spectacular,” he said.
Desserud said there have been increasing discussions in P.E.I. about government not paying attention to rural areas.
That might come as a surprise to MacLauchlan who has been talking about rural needs for a long time, including before taking office, Desserud said.
“I think this is a way of putting something there that can be far more visible and far more focused.”
- First elected in 2007
- Past chair of the Miscouche community council
- Served as government house leader
- First elected in 2007
- Former mayor of Alberton
- Owner of the Alberton Irving