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Meet the New Cabinet Steering BC

Fresh faces join veterans as Premier David Eby sets priorities.

Andrew MacLeod 7 Dec 2022TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at .

Premier David Eby named a new cabinet today that keeps much stability while also making some substantial changes.

“Our new cabinet represents the diversity of our province,” Eby said in his speech during the ceremony at Government House in Victoria.

It’s a strong team ready to work on the priorities of housing, climate change, public safety and health care, Eby said. “I know how strongly my cabinet colleagues and all my colleagues in government feel about these issues and believe in this vision for our province.”

West Kootenays MLA Katrine Conroy, who Eby later told reporters is “rural tough,” is the new finance minister, replacing Selina Robinson who stays in cabinet as the minister for post-secondary education and future skills.

Conroy said she had asked to remain in her previous position as forests minister, but was pleased to take on finance. She described herself as a pragmatist with experience running businesses and raising four children. She also said she has a rural MLA’s understanding of the importance of resource industries to the province.

The attorney general is Niki Sharma, a newcomer to cabinet who was first elected in 2020 in Vancouver-Hastings. Before seeking election she worked as a lawyer with a practice focused on representing Indigenous people, including residential school survivors.

Sharma, who said she felt honoured to be named to the post, acknowledged she had felt emotional during the swearing-in ceremony.

“I think about all the women before me, in my family, that didn’t have the opportunities, that had sexism and racism stand in their way,” said Sharma, the first South Asian woman to become attorney general. “I carry those stories with me and it hit me today when I had my name called.”

The new cabinet includes 14 women and 10 men in full ministerial posts.

Eby had previously announced there would be a new stand-alone housing ministry, and today named Ravi Kahlon to the post. Kahlon, MLA for Delta North, will also be the government house leader.

Another new position is the minister for emergency management and climate readiness, to which Eby named North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.

B.C. has legislated targets for reducing carbon emissions and addressing the climate crisis is part of the mandate letters for all ministers, Eby said.

“The issue of climate is a generational challenge, not just here in British Columbia but around the world,” he said. “For the new ministry, it’s a recognition B.C. seems to have been hit harder than many other places in Canada by climate change.”

Mentioning forest fires, smoky summers, the pine beetle epidemic, ocean acidification and floods, Eby said prioritizing readiness will be key.

Ministers keeping their previous portfolios include Adrian Dix in health, Mike Farnworth as solicitor general, Lisa Beare in citizens’ services, George Heyman in environment, Harry Bains in labour, Mitzi Dean in children and family development and Rob Fleming in transportation.

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin remains responsible for Indigenous relations and reconciliation, but is done with the attorney general and housing files that he took over when Eby left cabinet to seek the NDP leadership.

Bruce Ralston replaces Conroy in forests. Vancouver Island’s Josie Osborne moves to energy, Anne Kang to municipal affairs, Jennifer Whiteside to mental health and addictions, Sheila Malcolmson to social development and poverty reduction, Lana Popham to tourism, arts, culture and sport and Nathan Cullen to water, land and resource stewardship.

Among the eight new members of the 27-person cabinet are Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh as education minister, Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis in agriculture and Vancouver-False Creek MLA Brenda Bailey in jobs, economic development and innovation.

The most notable exit is Nicholas Simons, the Sunshine Coast MLA who served as social development and poverty reduction minister since the 2020 election. Vancouver-Mount Pleasant’s Melanie Mark, who had stepped back from her ministerial role citing “personal reasons,” remains as a minister without portfolio.

In his speech, Eby criticized politicians who focus on tax cuts that mainly benefit people who are already relatively rich and said he and the team in cabinet are committed to building a strong B.C. that leaves nobody behind.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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