Donna Barnett: cabinet shuffle ‘very interesting’

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA excited Ralph Sultan is news seniors minister

On the heels of several B.C. Liberal MLAs announcing they wouldn’t be seeking re-election in May 2013, Premier Christy Clark announced a major cabinet shuffle on Sept. 5.

With a number of prominent longtime MLAs passing on the next election, the premier shored up the lineup with the remainder of her more experienced cabinet minister and gave former ministers portfolios and promoted a couple of newcomers.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, who had made it known she wasn’t interested in a cabinet post, says she found the shuffle “very interesting.”

“There are some new ones and some people who were there before are back. As long as they get the job done for us, I will be happy.”

Barnett says she is very excited cabinet newcomer Ralph Sultan, 79, was made the minister of state for seniors.

She adds Sultan, who was elected in 2001, is a very smart man who is a senior himself and will be perfect for this new cabinet job.

“He gets it. This is a new designation and you couldn’t get a better person to put it all together.

“He understands economics and he knows what seniors need and he will listen. Things have to change because the demographics of this province are changing.”

Bill Bennett, who was fired for his harsh criticism of former premier Gordon Campbell, is back in cabinet and in his former role as community, sport and cultural development minister.

He will be Barnett’s boss, as she retained her role as parliamentary secretary for rural communities.

The local MLA notes there are a lot of things she has been working on and still have to be done in her riding.

“My concern is I’m still dealing with this abattoir, which has not been put to bed and I will not give up until we get some common sense on this issue. If we’re going to talk about jobs, we have to keep these family operations going.

“To me, that is a battle I’m not going to give up as long as I’m here.”

Barnett adds Prosperity Mine is another issue that has to be supported by her constituency and the province. With the pine-beetle impact on forestry, she says there needs to be diversification in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

The key cabinet appointments include Rich Coleman taking on the role of deputy premier to go along with his Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and minister responsible for housing portfolios.

Mike de Jong becomes the finance minister and house leader.

Pat Bell takes over the realigned Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and will also be the minister responsible for labour.

To learn more about the new cabinet ministers, go to www.gov.bc.ca/premier/cabinet_ministers/.