Fentie reorganizes cabinet

On Thursday, Premier Dennis Fentie shuffled his entire cabinet. It won’t make any difference, said acting Liberal Leader Don Inverarity.

On Thursday, Premier Dennis Fentie shuffled his entire cabinet.

It won’t make any difference, said acting Liberal Leader Don Inverarity.

“It doesn’t matter how much you shuffle the chairs, the ship is going down,” he said.

Every minister except Fentie received new responsibilities.

And some were demoted, said opposition politicians.

Former Health minister Brad Cathers took the biggest hit, said NDP Leader Todd Hardy.

“Brad fell out of favour,” he said, referring to Cathers’ loss of the Health and Social Services portfolio.

“There was lots of grumbling about Cathers in Health and maybe Fentie heard that,” said Hardy.

Cathers also lost the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Cathers has done a fair bit of damage to the government, added Inverarity.

Minister Glenn Hart, who’s taken over the portfolio, will “hopefully be a breath of fresh air,” he said.

Hardy was also happy to see Hart take on Health.

“He’s one of the better ones when it comes to engaging in debate,” he said.

Cathers wasn’t demoted, said Fentie.

“It’s not factual,” he said Friday.

“Health and Social was a huge undertaking for someone so new to the business of minister.”

In a short period of time Cathers modernized emergency services, amended the children’s act, dealt with disabilities and the daycare issue among many other things, he said.

“He has a great future in the political arena.

“Taking on Energy, Mines and Resources will broaden his horizons and increase his capacity as a minister,” said Fentie, who is paring his own responsibilities.

Deputy premier Elaine Taylor is taking over Environment from Fentie.

“That’s good, too, because Fentie neglected it,” said Hardy, adding Taylor may not be much better.

“Fentie will probably not allow much to be done in that area,” he said.

“He’s dumped it on Taylor, but will not give her the freedom to move forward.”

Environment is a perfect fit for Taylor, who has “a capacity for commitment and dedication,” said Fentie.

“And there is a synergy between Environment and (Taylor’s other portfolio) Tourism and Culture.

“Because our environment is one of our biggest tourism assets.”

Fentie should have dumped his Finance portfolio as well, considering the asset-backed commercial paper debacle, said Inverarity.

“Fentie’s done a crappy job as Finance minister,” added Hardy.

“He’s not incompetent, he just doesn’t have time to monitor Finance properly.”

In the shuffle, minister Archie Lang lost Energy, Mines and Resources.

But he still has a lot on his plate, with Community Services, which was shuffled from Hart, said Hardy.

While all eight ministers in Fentie’s cabinet saw their portfolios change, Dawson MLA Steve Nordick and Speaker Ted Staffen sit unaffected.

“Dawson has been shut out again at the cabinet table,” said Inverarity.

“Twice now they’ve been left out in the cold.

“I’m surprised he didn’t clear out the dead wood and bring in new blood.”

Inverarity thought someone would be “put out to pasture.”

Jim Kenyon came to mind.

“Kenyon’s still in,” said Inverarity.

And he has new responsibilities, taking over the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.

Energy is a bit issue, said Inverarity, citing rising fuel costs and the need for more energy with mines opening.

“And I’m not sure he’s the right guy for the job.”

If Kenyon had been canned, the opposition would have made a stink about firing a minister, said Fentie.

“Their claims are baseless,” he said.

“Dawson has not been shut out when you consider all the things we had to do to get it back on solid fiscal footing,” added Fentie.

“And Nordick plays a solid role in government operations — he has a massive workload.”

It was time for a shuffle, said both opposition politicians.

“But this is a huge shuffle,” said Hardy.

“It’s not a minor shuffle in any way, shape or form.”

Shuffles don’t always indicate a problem, said Hardy.

“But there has to be a policy behind it — this government is stale and has lost direction.”

 “There was too many little mistakes in the spring sitting, they had to change the blood out,” added Inverarity.

Shuffles should be part of any government’s mandate, said Fentie.

“They increase and enhance the experience of the government team.

“We did one in the last mandate and we’re going to keep doing it as we continue building Yukon’s future.”