Premier Christy Clark announces cabinet

Lieutenant-Governor Steven L. Point swore in Premier Christy Clark at Government House on March 14.

It didn’t take the new B.C. Liberal Party Leader long to put her personal stamp on a leaner provincial government, which she said will focus on putting families first, job creation and changes to the way British Columbians will engage with the provincial government.

“Our new cabinet will reflect the priorities of British Columbians and put families at the centre of all our decision-making,” Clark said after the swearing-in ceremonies.

“Together, we will focus on creating jobs and building a strong economy because that is the single most important thing we can do to support families and ensure we can invest in critical services like health and education.”

Clark trimmed the cabinet from 24 ministers to herself and 17 ministers.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said Monday she wasn’t surprised to see a leaner cabinet.

“Well, if you’re going to show fiscal responsibility and cut spending, you have to start at the top.”

The premier created a new Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, which will be headed by Pat Bell, and combine the job-creation functions under one ministry.

Clark also created three new cabinet committees to reflect the priorities of government: the Committee on Families First; the Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth, which Barnett sits on; and the Committee on Open Government and Engagement.

The new cabinet has also undergone a significant shuffling of duties with many ministers taking on new portfolios, newcomers being introduced to the inner circle, and Blair Lekstrom, who left caucus over HST implementation concerns, being welcomed back as transportation minister.

All the MLAs who ran against Clark in the leadership race made it into the inner circle with the exception of Moira Stilwell.

Barnett said she was disappointed Stilwell didn’t make it into cabinet “because she is such a smart woman.”

Former finance minister Colin Hansen joined the backbench.

Also left out of Clark’s new cabinet were former ministers Iain Black, Ben Stewart, Margaret MacDiarmid, Murray Coell, Kevin Krueger and Stilwell.

Meanwhile, Barnett said she thinks the new premier made a good move giving Kevin Falcon, her closest rival in the leadership race the finance portfolio and appointed him Deputy Premier.

She added Falcon, who will handle the preparation for the province-wide referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax, has a very bright future ahead of him.

Barnett said she is happy Steve Thomson kept the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations portfolio.

“It’s so important to our region and I’m so pleased he is still there. Steven is such a hard worker and there’s so much involved in that ministry.”

Barnett was selected as the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Economic Development to Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

“Included in that, so people don’t panic, is the pine beetle file. I know people would be very upset if that disappeared.”

The local MLA said she is pleased with the new job because tourism, and regional economic development are so very important to not only her constituency but also throughout the province.

Now, that the cabinet has been set, she added it’s time for the B.C. Liberal Party to move forward and get the job done that needs to be done.

Barnett said economics is going to be the big focus for the party under Clark, particularly the job-creation aspect.

“One way to get families to where they want to be – happy and healthy – is to provide jobs. The only way you get rid of homelessness and poverty is to create jobs.”