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Updated: New B.C. cabinet: Thomson in, Letnick out
Update: Re-appointed Minster of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson says he is ready to "hit the ground running" once he is sworn back into cabinet on Monday.
Thomson, the B.C. Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission, was re-appointed Friday by Premier Christy Clark when she announced her new 19-member cabinet.
Thomson said he expects to continue the work he started as the minister in the last Liberal government, noting both the environmental and economic impact his ministry has on B.C.
"I'm really pleased with the confidence the premier has shown in me by re-appointing me to this ministry," Thomson said late Friday afternoon following Clark's introduction of her new cabinet in Vancouver.
The cabinet members will be sworn in by Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon Monday.
Thomson said while he is disappointed his Kelowna-Lake Country colleague Norm Letnick will not be rejoining him at the cabinet table, he said he expects Letnick will play a big role in his new position as parliamentary secretary to the premier for intergovernmental affairs.
He said he, Letnick and former Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart worked so well and closely together in the past, he does not expect that to change with Letnick now that on;y one of them is in cabinet.
Stewart has stepped down after winning the election May 14 so Clark can run in a by election.
Original story: The Central Okanagan's representation at the B.C. cabinet table has decreased.
But, while it will have two fewer cabinet ministers than it did prior to the May 14 election, if the B.C. Liberals have their way, it will add the most powerful voice of all in the B.C. cabinet, Premier Christy Clark. Clark plans to run in a byelection in the Westside-Kelowna riding in a vote that could happen as soon as mid-July.
Of the three local Liberals elected on election night here last month, only Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson was reappointed to cabinet on Friday. Thomson has retained his forests, lands and natural resource operations portfolio.
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, the former agriculture minister, was replaced in that portfolio by Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm. Letnick, however, was appointed Clark's parliamentary secretary for intergovernmental affairs.
Letnick, who only learned of his new position late Thursday afternoon, said he has yet to find out what it will entail.
A government news release said the position of parliamentary secretary to the premier for intergovernmental affairs will have him working with the provincial Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat in the premier office to further the interests of B.C. at intergovernmental events.
He said he will talk with other MLAs who have held the postion in the past, such as Chilliwack's John Les, to learn more about what he will be doing.
It is unclear if Letnick will be able to resume his chairmanship of a legislative committee Clark appointed him to before he entered cabinet that was in charge of looking at the future of health care in B.C.
"We'll have to wait until the committee appointements are announced next week," said Letnik.
On Friday, he wasn't sure if his position as a parliamentry secretary would preclude that. He had to give up the chairmanship of the committee when he became agriculture minister.
Despite his departure from cabinet, Letnick said he was "fired up" by the result of the election and ready get back to work as MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.
In a stunning come-from-behind victory, the Liberals won 49 of the 85 seats in the B.C. Legislature in the May 14 election to form another majority government.
Meanwhile, Westside-Kelowna's Ben Stewart,the former Minister of Citizen Services, announced earlier this week he will step down to allow Clark to run in a byelection in the riding he easily won for the Liberals May 14 so Clark can win a seat in the B.C. Legislature. Clark lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat in the election to NDP challengerDavid Eby.
Stewart was minister of citizens affairs in the former B.C. Liberal government. That ministry is now part of a new ministry called technology, innovation and citizen's services. Newcomer Andrew Wilkinson, who retained the Vancouver riding of Vancouver-Quilchena for the Liberals in the election was named to head that ministry on Friday.
The 19-member cabinet includes:
Rich Coleman—Deputy premier and Minister for Natural Gas Development, and Minister Responsible for Housing
Mike de Jong—Finance Minister and government house leader
Steve Thomson Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister
Terry Lake—Health Minister .
John Rustad—Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister
Peter Fassbender—Education Minister
Amrik Virk—Advanced Education Minister
Todd Stone—Transportation and Infrastructure Minister and deputy house leader
Don McRea—Social Development and Social Innovation Minister
Andrew Wilkinson—Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services Minister Stephanie Cadieux Children and Family Development Minister
Bill Bennett—Energy and Mines Minister and Minister Responsible for Core Review
Coralee Oakes—Community Sport and Cultural Development Minister
Teresa Wats—International Trade and Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism Minister
Suzanne Anton—Justice Minister and Attorney General
Shirley Bond Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training Minister and Minister Responsible for Labour
Mary Polak—Environment Minister
Pat Pimm—Agriculture Minister
Naomi Yamamoto—Small Business and Tourism Minister
The cabinet will be sworn in on Monday by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.