Polishing the cabinet

0
1023


Political junkies are constantly looking for a way to satiate their cravings.

From March 16 to April 19, these addicts were on a constant high with the provincial election campaign.

Now that the campaign is over — with a history-making Progressive Conservative thumping of the sad-sack governing NDP — the withdrawal symptoms are starting to show in the political peanut gallery.

So now, pundits, players and “whimsical columnists” such as myself (the latter are former premier Gary Doer’s words) are turning to the guessing game of who will be in Premier-designate Brian Pallister’s cabinet.

And it’s a fun game.

The Top Tories will be an inner-circle of only 12 people, down from the NDP’s 18. It was one of Pallister’s cost-savings election promises.

Now it’s fine and dandy to make that type of campaign pledge, but now the rubber hits the road for Pallister. With such a huge number of MLAs elected — 40 with 24 being new faces in the caucus — come swearing-in day May 3, there are bound to be some testy Tory reps who are left out. The rest of the caucus will be sworn in May 11.

On the day after the thrilling election night, Pallister told the media he will make his picks based on merit, rather than trying to achieve gender parity. Why is gender parity such a top-of-mind topic for the media? Well the gender parity concept was instilled in the Canadian consciousness by the King of Political Correctness, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He made headlines in November when he appointed Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet. Merit be damned. Affirmative action was now de rigueur in the most powerful boardroom in Canada.

When asked why gender parity was so important to him, Trudeau said, “because it’s 2015.”

Now while gender parity is a worthy goal indeed, it’s a stretch right now as there are simply not enough women running for office waving the PC Party flag (or getting elected if they do). Pallister has stated that gender parity in cabinet will take time. The Tories did run the largest number of women in the party’s history this past campaign. But after the votes were cast, the Tory caucus consists of eight women and 32 men.

“As the father of two daughters I believe (women) should have equal opportunity in life, but they should also understand that merit is what matters most,” Pallister said.

He avoided quipping: “And because it’s 2016.” Which would have been funny. Yeah, about as humorous as the “sacred cows” blooper he made at the start of the campaign. But I digress.

With 16 incumbents to choose from, only two of the veterans are women. In recent media conferences Pallister would not commit to putting his two veteran female MLAs into cabinet. He would also not commit to having a cabinet rep from Brandon.

So without further ado (drum roll please…) here’s my list:

Steven Fletcher (Assiniboia)
Reg Helwer (Brandon West)
Myrna Driedger (Charleswood)
Scott Fielding (Kirkfield Park)
Blaine Pederson (Midland)
Shannon Martin (Morris)
Ian Wishart (Portage la Prairie)
Rochelle Squires (Riel)
Janice Morley Lecomte (Seine River)
Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach)
Kelly Bindle (Thompson)
Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo)
Ron Schuler (St. Paul) without a doubt, should be Speaker. Elected in a secret ballot by all Members of the Assembly, the Speaker occupies the position of highest authority in the Legislative Assembly. And he gets to wear a cool tri-corner hat and judicial-style robes.

My dozen picks give the Tories an equal balance between urban and rural (yes, Brandon is considered rural, geez), plus one-third of the cabinet will be women. All regions of the province are represented and Pallister can lean on his most experienced former Opposition critics to shoulder some weight in key portfolios.

I’m not going to get into detailed reasons why each of my picks deserves to be in cabinet. Just to say I’m following Pallister’s lead on merit first and a natural need for a rural/urban balance for his first cabinet. In a couple of years, he can then tinker a bit and consider shuffling in people such as Jon Reyes (St. Norbert) of the provincial capital’s Filipino community or Alan Lagimodiere (Selkirk) and Bob Lagassé (Dawson Trail) who identify as Indigenous. This especially if some of his debut cabinet bright lights turn out to be falling stars.

Most ministers in the new Tory cabinet will have to handle several portfolios, so their assistants and staff will likely come into play much more so than under the NDP regime. The deputy ministers, many of whom will likely stay on under the new Tory government — as they are supposed to be non-political career bureaucrats — will also have to vie for time on their minister’s busy schedules.

Just for comparison to my cabinet picks, here are a couple of others that popped up after election night. I note that both selections only have a few different picks than mine, I placed them at the bottom of each list:

Winnipeg Sun:

Steven Fletcher (Assiniboia)
Reg Helwer (Brandon West)
Myrna Driedger (Charleswood)
Scott Fielding (Kirkfield Park)
Shannon Martin (Morris)
Ian Wishart  (Portage la Prairie)
Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach)
Kelly Bindle (Thompson)
Heather Stefanson (Tuxedo)
Cathy Cox (River East)
Jon Reyes (St. Norbert)
Ron Schuler (St. Paul)

CBC Manitoba (only came up with 10 names):

Steven Fletcher (Assiniboia)
Myrna Driedger (Charleswood)
Scott Fielding (Kirkfield Park)
Ian Wishart (Portage La Prairie)
Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach)
Kelly Bindle (Thompson)
Heather Stefanson Tuxedo)
Cathy Cox (River East)
Ron Schuler (St. Paul)
Len Isleifson (Brandon East)

If you want to make your own fantasy cabinet, you can start here:

http://www.electionsmanitoba.ca/en/Results/ENR

Brian Pallister Brandon Mb

Brian Pallister Brandon MB