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BC Premier Campbell appoints expanded cabinet in time of restraint

VICTORIA – British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell appointed an expanded cabinet today that adds seven rookies, promotes a few veterans and drops four former members.

Key appointments in the 25-person cabinet, counting Campbell, include Kevin Falcon to health services minister, Mike de Jong to Attorney General and George Abbott to aboriginal relations and reconciliation. Colin Hansen remains the finance minister and takes on the responsibilities of deputy premier.

Newcomers taking on large roles include Kash Heed as the minister responsible for public safety and Solicitor General, Margaret MacDiarmid in education and Moira Stilwell in advanced education.

“We have a number of very significant challenges ahead of us,” said Campbell when asked why the cabinet is expanding from 22 to 25 members at a time when the government is looking for savings. Campbell cited coming labour negotiations and the 2010 Olympics as examples.

Murray Coell will be labour minister and Mary McNeil will be the minister of state for the Olympics and ActNow B.C.. “We're going to have the Olympics and it's going to be great,” said Campbell. “If we let it go by without taking advantage of the multi-billion opportunity it offers to our province and to our country, then people would be right to hold us to account for that. We don't want that to happen.”

Shirley Bond will be the minister for transportation and infrastructure, Mary Polak will have children and family development and be responsible for child care.

Rich Coleman retains housing and social development, Pat Bell keeps forests and range, Blair Lekstrom continues in energy, mines and petroleum resources, and former park ranger Barry Penner stays as environment minister.

Gone from cabinet are Ron Cantelon, Linda Reid, Gordon Hogg and Joan McIntyre. Nor did John van Dongen, who resigned as Solicitor General during the election after his driving record became public, return to cabinet.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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