MLA Natalie Jameson hopes to bring 'new perspective' to PC cabinet

Natalie Jameson, MLA for Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park, has become the most recent addition to Premier Dennis King's cabinet, being sworn in Friday morning.

Jameson was named minister of environment, water and climate change — a portfolio previously held by Brad Trivers, who will stay in cabinet as minister of education and lifelong learning. 

Jameson was also named as the minister responsible for Charlottetown and for the status of women, absorbing those files from ministers James Aylward and Darlene Compton respectively.

She is one of only two women in the PC caucus, and becomes only the second woman in the King cabinet. She's also the only MLA the current PCs have elected in Charlottetown.

Oil and gas industry experience

Speaking immediately after her swearing-in, Jameson said she brings a "new perspective" to cabinet.

"I have small children, I have renewed energy. I certainly feel that I'm going to add another voice to the table in terms of representing women and of course the residents of Charlottetown," she said.

Kerry Campbell/CBC

Jameson also brings a decade of experience working in the oil and gas sector in Alberta, work which continued right up until she was elected in July 2019.

Now she will take charge of efforts to reduce P.E.I.'s carbon emissions to meet an ambitious new target written into law through a bill passed by the Green Party.

"I think we all bring a variety of experience and expertise to anything that we do," Jameson said of her work as a recruiter and marketing representative for Obsidian Energy.

"That to me was 10 years of extremely professional experience where I gained a lot of skills and expertise and I think that fundamentally it'll just help me." 

Finding 'economic opportunities' in changing environment

After reiterating his government's commitment to act on climate change, King outlined the credentials of his new climate change minister.

We'll be holding her to account to make sure that she is fulfilling the role. — Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker

"The Natalie Jameson that I've come to know in the last year is a passionate Islander," he said. "She is very, very aware, having two young children, the importance of having a healthy environment.… I think her background gives her a unique look at many, many things of course, like all of us. But I'm probably more focused and excited about what she will do moving forward."

King said he expects Jameson not just to lead the province in meeting its emission reduction target, but also to help "find the economic opportunities that are wrapped up inside of a changing environment. I want Prince Edward Island to be innovative in leading that charge."

For his part, Opposition leader Peter Bevan-Baker welcomed the news of Jameson's appointment.

"That work of hers is in the past," said Bevan-Baker. "And I would hope actually that from that part of her life she could bring forward some knowledge of how that sector actually works and to use that effectively and positively in her new role."

If the Greens don't feel the new minister is committed to bold action on the environment, Bevan-Baker said the party's reaction would be the same regardless of who the minister is or what's in their work history.

"We'll be holding her to account to make sure that she is fulfilling the role that she is mandated to do as minister of climate change," he said.

Water Act, one of first priorities

This has brought King's cabinet to 10 members. That means only three MLAs from his caucus are not cabinet ministers.

Jameson was elected in the deferred election held on July 15, 2019. She currently serves on the special committee on poverty.

Kerry Campbell/CBC

One of Jameson's first tasks will be the proclamation of the Water Act.

Last month, then Environment Minister Brad Trivers said when the act is proclaimed it will likely include a continued moratorium on high-capacity wells. That is expected this spring. 

King introduced his first cabinet less than a year ago, during a ceremony in Georgetown, P.E.I., on May 9, 2019. 

Shortly after last year's election, the incoming premier suggested a mixed-party cabinet was possible, but in the end he opted for an all-PC cabinet.

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