When it comes to cabinet-making—the political kind—geography often plays a bigger role than ability.
While the latter can work in favour of a backbench MLA looking to move to the front benches in the Legislature, the former can sometimes prove to be a deterrent.
That appears to be what happened to Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick.
Dropped from cabinet Monday, Letnick likely didn’t do anything wrong, he just represents a riding that not only sits too close to another cabinet minister’s riding—Steve Thomson’s Kelowna-Mission—if everything goes according to plan for the B.C. Liberals, also to Westside-Kelowna, which his boss, Premier Christy Clark, plans to call her own.
Yes, the Central Okanagan had all three of its MLAs in the last Liberal cabinet but that was more a move born of desperation than relaxed panning.
In her last government,Clark was faced with the prospect of many veteran cabinet ministers calling it quits and she had to fill ministries with who was left.
Normally, it would be rare to have three MLAs from the same area in cabinet together.
Geographic representation in a province as large as B.C. is important and now Clark has a new, clean slate of 49 MLAs to choose from—including some high-profile rookies. So, she has to share the cabinet wealth.
Letnick’s demotion should not be viewed as punishment for doing a bad job. The brutal reality is the premier and one cabinet minister is all this area was going to get.
It’s unclear if Ben Stewart, who stepped aside in Westside-Kelowna so Clark can run, would have been heading back to cabinet either. That may have played a part in him offering up his seat. Who knows?
Either way, this area should still have the ear of the government. After all, the premier says she plans to call it her “second” home.