Though they were just elected to their first terms in provincial politics on May 14, two South Okanagan MLAs have been appointed to significant positions in B.C.’s Liberal government.
However, the Okanagan will have only one cabinet minister, with Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson returning as Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Previously, Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart also held cabinet posts. Penticton MLA Dan Ashton will be getting a chance right away to bring his experience as mayor of Penticton to bear in provincial politics as parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for core review. Ashton will be reporting to Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, the minister responsible for the newly created core review portfolio.
“Bill will not be shy about asking the hard questions,” said Clark, as she introduced Bennett, who along with being named minister of energy and mines is tasked with the core review of the provincial government, similar to the one conducted in Penticton in 2009-10. This will be the first work in core review in a decade at the provincial government level, according to Clark.
Ashton, who has also been named to the Treasury Board, is expected to use his experience to help Bennett identify savings and efficiencies and make recommendations to cabinet on how to improve B.C.’s regulatory reform and red tape reduction. Though he expects it to be substantially different from the core service reviews conducted under his watch at the City of Penticton and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, Ashton expects those, along with his reputation for fiscal responsibility, are what got him singled out for the job.
“The premier has mentioned that this overall look at the government is very important and I am honoured to be given the opportunity and the chance,” said Ashton. “I just want to thank the premier and her staff for giving me the opportunity. I am looking forward to working with Minister Bennett, especially on the overall service and core service review.”
Right now, Ashton said he is just trying to get his feet under him as a rookie MLA, sworn in Tuesday. He expects to be going “full throttle” on the project soon.
“I am sure looking forward to it. There are a lot of issues the province faces,” said Ashton. “Along with that fiscal responsibility and financial accountability, I have always had a strong social conscience. I think that is one of the attributes that I bring to the table.”
Boundary-Similkameen MLA and Oliver councillor Linda Larson is the parliamentary secretary to the minister of health for seniors, reporting to new Minister of Health Terry Lake. Larson will bring her own experience on provincial organizations and connections throughout B.C. to bear as she works with seniors throughout the province to make sure government services are able to be accessed by seniors and makes recommendations to the minister on how to keep improving seniors’ health-care services.
In all, Clark named 19 ministers to her new cabinet Monday morning, which she said was smaller than many past cabinets. They will be focused on following through on issues like balancing the budget and bringing B.C.’s natural gas resources to market.
“In the next four years there will be ups and downs, but there will never come a day when I doubt the spirit of the people of B.C.,” she said.
Clark promised a mix of experience and fresh vision in her cabinet and kept many high-profile ministers in key positions. Mike de Jong stays on as minister of finance and government house leader, tasked with reintroducing and passing the 2013 budget, which Clark promised would be the first of four balanced budgets. Rich Coleman was named deputy premier as well as minister for housing, while Suzanne Anton replaces Shirley Bond as the minister of justice and attorney general.
Bond will take over as the minister of jobs, tourism and skills training and minister responsible for labour.
List of ministers and parliamentary secretaries for 2013
Deputy Premier and the Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing: Rich Coleman.
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation: John Rustad.
Minister of Advanced Education: Amrik Virk.
Minister of Agriculture will be Pat Pimm.
Minister of Children and Family Development: Stephanie Cadieux.
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development: Coralee Oakes.
Minister of Education: Peter Fassbender.
Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review: Bill Bennett.
Minister of Environment: Mary Polak.
Minister of Finance and Government House Leader: Michael de Jong.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations: Steve Thomson.
Minister of Health: Terry Lake.
Minister of International Trade, Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism: Teresa Wat.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour: Shirley Bond.
Reporting to Bond, the Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business : Naomi Yamamoto.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General: Suzanne Anton.
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation: Don McRae.
Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services: Andrew Wilkinson.
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and Deputy House Leader: Todd Stone.
Parliamentary Secretary appointees
Norm Letnick – Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Intergovernmental Affairs.
Greg Kyllo – Parliamentary Secretary for the BC Jobs Plan to the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
Linda Reimer – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for Communities.
Jane Thornthwaite – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education for Student Support and Parent Engagement.
Marc Dalton – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education for the Independent School Sector.
Donna Barnett – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for Rural Development.
Dan Ashton – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister Responsible for Core Review.
Linda Larson – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors.
Michelle Stilwell – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Healthy Living.
Darryl Plecas – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Crime Reduction.
Laurie Throness – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Corrections.
John Yap – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Liquor Policy Reform.
Jordan Sturdy – Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for Transportation.
Richard T. Lee – Parliamentary Secretary for the Asia Pacific Strategy to the Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism.