15 members, new department to highlight incoming premier's cabinet

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Iain Rankin, accompanied by his wife, Mary, addresses supporters after winning the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party earlier this month. He'll be sworn in as premier on Tuesday.
Iain Rankin, accompanied by his wife, Mary, addresses supporters after winning the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party earlier this month. He'll be sworn in as premier on Tuesday.

(The Canadian Press - image credit)

Premier-designate Iain Rankin positioned himself as a candidate for generational change during the Nova Scotia Liberal Party's leadership convention and people close to him say that change will begin in earnest on Tuesday.

Rankin and his cabinet will be sworn in during a low-key ceremony in downtown Halifax, adhering to public health protocols.

According to government sources, Rankin's cabinet will include 15 people, down one from the cabinet of outgoing premier Stephen McNeil.

The new cabinet will represent a coming together of the three leadership campaign teams, with representatives who backed Rankin as well as people who supported Labi Kousoulis and Randy Delorey.

Rankin has said he wants Kousoulis and Delorey to be members of his cabinet.

New department created

The new premier is expected to create a new government department called Infrastructure and Housing. That department, according to the source, will include oversight of the major hospital redevelopment projects in Cape Breton and Halifax Regional Municipality.

Housing, which became a topic of conversation during the leadership as more and more people found themselves priced out of the rental market in Halifax and other parts of the province, was previously included with the Municipal Affairs file.

Transportation will become a standalone department. It previously included infrastructure renewal.

In a nod to a major theme of his campaign, Rankin is creating an Office of Equity and Anti-Racism, as well as an Office of Mental Health and Addictions. Kousoulis championed a similar idea during his leadership bid.

The latter office will be included in the Health and Wellness Department. A position called the chief officer of mental health and addictions, which will report to the deputy health minister, is also being created.

Climate change a major theme

The biggest theme of Rankin's campaign, the environment and addressing climate change, will also be reflected in Tuesday's event.

The Environment Department is being renamed Environment and Climate Change in an effort to highlight Rankin's commitment to the issue, according to a source, and all mandate letters to ministers will note the need to consider climate change and for it to factor into their respective policy and program decisions.

The mandate letters will be available to the public.

Rankin was elected by Nova Scotia Liberal Party delegates on the second ballot at a leadership convention earlier this month, with 52.4 per cent of the points compared to Kousoulis, who had 47.6 per cent. Delorey was third on the initial ballot and did not advance to the second round.

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