Saskatchewan's Moe keeps familiar faces, shuffles jobs in postelection cabinet

Stephanie Taylor
·3 min read

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has picked his new cabinet, keeping many of the same faces in his inner circle, but giving them new jobs, and returning a longtime party stalwart to the fold after an unceremonious exit.

Moe revealed his 18-member cabinet during a swearing-in ceremony held at Government House on Monday, two weeks after his Saskatchewan Party's Oct. 26 election win.

It was the first time Moe, who became premier in 2018 through a leadership contest, made significant changes to his cabinet, which stayed largely the same after former premier Brad Wall retired from politics.

Social Services Minister Paul Merriman moved into Health as the province grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, and Health Minister Jim Reiter is now responsible for SaskBuilds, procurement and infrastructure.

"We have not hidden from the fact that we are going to use infrastructure to foster our economic recovery," Moe said.

Merriman said he planned to meet with the province's chief medical health officer after being sworn to be briefed on the worsening COVID-19 numbers in the province.

Everett Hindley, who represents Swift Current and served as an assistant to Wall before successfully running to replace the former premier in the Legislature, entered cabinet as minister of mental health and addictions, seniors and rural and remote health.

Hindley said including mental health in the title is new and represents the government's commitment to the issue.

Monday's announcement saw longtime Saskatchewan Party member and former deputy premier Don McMorris return to cabinet after his exit in 2016 following an impaired driving charge.

Court heard he had nearly 2 1/2 times the legal amount of alcohol in his system when he was pulled over by police on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Regina. McMorris pleaded guilty and has sat in the backbenches since.

"It's a great relief," he said of his appointment as minister of government relations. "Sometimes you take stuff for granted until you've lost it. I don't take this for granted. It's huge."

McMorris said he no longer drives impaired and has managed to keep the support of his constituents.

"I wished it never would have happened. Of course I wished it never would have happened. It did. I can't change that. I can only go forward."

McMorris was first elected to the Legislature in 1999 and is one of the few who have been with the Saskatchewan Party since its days in Opposition.

"Notwithstanding the severity of why he left cabinet a few years ago, he has served the people of this province in a positive fashion on many instances," said Moe.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer stays in her portfolio, while also assuming the job of deputy premier from Gord Wyant, who leaves Education to become attorney general.

Harpauer is the first woman to hold the job of deputy premier in several years and says she recognizes the significance of that as a mother of three women.

Exiting cabinet are Greg Ottenbreit and one of Moe's former leadership rivals, Ken Cheveldayoff.

Ottenbreit, a former highways minister, has drawn public criticism in recent years for his anti-abortion comments and social media activity.

The only member of Moe's cabinet not to be re-elected was Tina Beaudry Mellor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9 2020.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Greg Ottenbreit ran for the Saskatchewan Party leadership.