On Monday, ministers of three prominent departments of the Yukon government switched chairs.
Brad Cathers moves from Energy, Mines and Resources to Community Services. Elaine Taylor takes over the Education portfolio, and Scott Kent picks up where Cathers left off with EMR.
Environment Minister Currie Dixon also gets the Public Service Commission added to his responsibilities.
“What this is about is really drawing on the knowledge and experience that these ministers have and their perspective, and bringing that to the new ministries,” said premier Darrell Pasloski.
“Their colleagues have done an excellent job up to this point, and I expect them to sort of get the baton and keep moving us forward,” the premier said.
This shuffle is similar to last September’s deputy minister shuffle in that it’s all about moving people, and their experience, around, Pasloski said.
The move was greeted with what amounts to a shrug from the opposition parties.
“I don’t think it’s much of anything,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson.
“It doesn’t change anything on the ground, I don’t believe. We’ve got the same government, and they’ve simply shifted chairs on the deck.”
She did say she was surprised that it took this long for Kent to land in the EMR hot seat.
“I would have anticipated that Mr. Kent would have gone to the EMR field earlier than this because he was an active lobbyist before he came into this cabinet,” Hanson said. Kent has served as chair of the Yukon Gold Mining Alliance and as executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines.
“He should be comfortable there, but I don’t know if that is a significant enough change to handle the kinds of challenges that the minister of Energy, Mines and Resources is going to face,” she said.
Rather than shuffle the cards, Hanson said she would like to see the government show some appetite in moving away from a purely resource-based economy.
“This premier has said loudly, as mining goes, so goes the Yukon. Until that changes, if it’s Scott Kent in EMR or Brad Cathers, this is a government that turned its back on renewable energy,” Hanson said.
Interim Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said that a shuffle of the three departments points to a premier trying to rein in problems with his government’s biggest spenders.
“Last spring the premier got a lot of heat from us and also from the media, on EMR, on education, and community services. I think he’s hoping that changes in faces will change the story, but I’m worried that the same problems are just going to persist,” Silver said.
He also suggested that Brad Cathers is taking a convenient exit from the mining portfolio, just as it appears that deck is stacked against the government.
“After taking credit for every good news story in the mining industry, Minister Cathers then decides to jump ship and now doesn’t have to take responsibility for the trouble on the horizon in the mining industry,” Silver said.
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