Nova Scotia’s premier has announced a cabinet shuffle that sees an MLA joining cabinet and another returning to a previous portfolio.
Stephen McNeil made the announcement Thursday morning.
Chuck Porter, the MLA for Hants West, will join cabinet as minister of municipal affairs. Porter joined the Liberals in February 2016, after sitting as an independent MLA since June 2014. Prior to that, Porter was a member of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative caucus.
“I really appreciated and respected his ability to work across party lines, but equally as important to be able to build consensus among different organizations within his community,” McNeil told reporters.
McNeil denied that Porter’s appointment should be seen as a reward for crossing the floor, calling it “ancient history.”
“It’s nice to be part of executive council. It’s something I’m familiar with,” Porter said. “I was a councillor when I initially started my political career back in 2004, a couple of years in the Town of Windsor, so I’m excited about that role.”
Sydney-Whitney Pier MLA Derek Mombourquette has been named minister of energy and mines. The geoscience and mining division of the former Department of Natural Resources will be transferred to this portfolio. The merger was announced in the spring budget. Simon d’Entremont has been named deputy minister of energy and mines, in addition to his role as deputy minister of seniors.
“We will be able to pull all of the skillset from both mining and energy together. The expertise that both have will be positive towards economic development,” McNeil said.
Timberlea-Prospect MLA Iain Rankin will now be the minister of the newly named Department of Lands and Forestry, part of what the premier says is a renewed focus on forestry.
The government has commissioned William Lahey, president of the University of King’s College, to undertake an independent review of forestry practices in the province. That report will soon be released to the public.
Hants East MLA Margaret Miller returns to the role of environment minister, which is a role she held from 2016-2017. Premier McNeil says Miller couldn’t stay on in the new lands and forestry department due to her background in the forestry industry.
“I wanted to make that adjustment because I wanted to avoid the very suggestion that there was a conflict with Minister Miller,” McNeil said.
Geoff MacLellan, MLA for Glace Bay, continues to be minister of business, minister of trade and Service Nova Scotia and will also become a member of the Treasury and Policy Board, in addition to his duties as Government House Leader.
The appointments are effective immediately, but there will be more to come.
“I’ve made it clear to all of my members that this is the first shuffle I will be making. I will be making another one within about a year as we prepare for the next election campaign,” McNeil said.
With files from Sarah Ritchie