P.E.I. premier makes major changes in cabinet shuffle

·3 min read
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King poses with his new cabinet at Government House. Left to right are Cory Deagle, Ernie Hudson, Bloyce Thompson, Matthew MacKay, Darlene Compton, Dennis King, Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry, Steven Myers, Natalie Jameson, Jamie Fox and Mark McLane. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King poses with his new cabinet at Government House. Left to right are Cory Deagle, Ernie Hudson, Bloyce Thompson, Matthew MacKay, Darlene Compton, Dennis King, Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry, Steven Myers, Natalie Jameson, Jamie Fox and Mark McLane. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced changes to his cabinet Friday morning.

The cabinet has two new members: Cornwall-Meadowbank MLA Mark McLane becomes minister of finance and Montague-Kilmuir MLA Cory Deagle is minister of transportation and infrastructure.

James Aylward, who was minister of transportation and infrastructure, and Brad Trivers, social development and housing, are out of the cabinet.

Three ministers changed portfolios:

  • Darlene Compton moves from finance to agriculture and land, as well as justice and public safety. She remains deputy premier.

  • Matthew MacKay moves from economic growth, tourism and culture to social development and housing.

  • Bloyce Thompson moves from agriculture and land; justice and public safety to economic growth, tourism and culture.

Four positions were unchanged:

  • Jamie Fox, fisheries and communities.

  • Natalie Jameson, education and lifelong learning, minister responsible for the status of women.

  • Steven Myers, environment, energy and climate action.

  • Ernie Hudson, health and wellness.

King also retains his roles as president of executive council, minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs, Indigenous relations, and Acadian and francophone affairs.

In his last cabinet shuffle in February 2021, King's key moves were promoting Hudson to Health and Jameson to Education.

'Nothing new here' say Greens

That 2021 shuffle was King's only major shift in government leadership since his 2019 election.

In February 2020 he made a minor change, bringing Natalie Jameson into cabinet.

I don't think this rearrangement of chairs around the table is going to make much of a difference. — Peter Bevan-Baker

In a news release sent out before the cabinet shuffle, provincial NDP Leader Michelle Neill questioned the need for the cabinet shuffle.

"Will a cabinet shuffle correct the family doctor access crisis, provide relief for the high cost of living, and restore the seed potato industry devastated by potato wart, or will it simply provide a distraction and an accountability escape for government ministries?" she said.

Cabinet shuffles slow down the work of government while ministers get accustomed to their new portfolios, Neill said.

Gabrielle Drumon/SRC
Gabrielle Drumon/SRC

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter-Bevan-Baker was more unequivocal.

"I don't think this rearrangement of chairs around the table is going to make much of a difference," he said in a statement. "Islanders are looking for real leadership and effective, efficient delivery of services. I see nothing new here to achieve this. I wish the new ministers well in their portfolios and look forward to the day when real change happens."

P.E.I.'s Liberal Opposition was more upbeat.

"The announced changes to Premier King's cabinet brought desperately needed change to some departmental leadership. The efficacy of this change remains to be determined," said interim P.E.I. Liberal Leader Sonny Gallant in a news release Friday.

He pointed out the government's ongoing challenges with housing, health care, child care and the labour market, and said he feared these would all get worse before they get better.

"The changes do bring opportunity for fresh perspectives being brought to executive council. Especially for Island youth, now having the youngest sitting MLA in the cabinet room," Gallant noted.

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