Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Graham guess

Per a request of a commenter and due to my insatiable desire, I am going to try to predict the Graham cabinet shuffle.

The press has been functioning around these main hypotheses:

1.) Stuart Jamieson, who is battling cancer, will keep his tourism portfolio but possibly lose the house leader job

2.) Victor Boudreau and Premier Shawn Graham who have more than one full department, will shuffle away some of their responsibilities

3.) Junior minister Mary Schryer and a Moncton-area backbencher will be promoted

4.) Some other high performance backbenchers may be promoted

I think some of these have merit and others do not.

The first move that would make a lot of sense to me is to give the Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour portfolio to a non-Saint John minister. I think that this report should be fully implemented but it is unpopular in Saint John, in my view only for cosmetic reasons, so to make it more politically saleable, it should be given to a strong, non-Saint John minister. I think if they move to implement it quickly, by the time the 2010 election roles around it will be popular in Saint John and across New Brunswick.

Second, this government has made a fair bit of noise and some major announcements in terms of support for Aboriginals. I think that the government will elevate the role for Aboriginal relations in government, which is largely a federal area of juridiction, by moving Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs into the same portfolio with its own minister as was the case under previous Liberal governments.

Third, I believe Finance and Local Government will remain together because the unconditional grant, the key file in provincial-municipal relations, is actually under the finance minister.

Fourth, I believe the Premier will retain the Wellness, Culture and Sport portfolio as he has a keen interest in this area and speaks of it regularly.

Fifth, the premier has a cabinet with 2 women and a caucus with 4. Both are small numbers, but the symbolism of not moving at least one of these women in to cabinet would be bad. Greater Saint John currently has 4-5 ministers, Fredericton has 3, Moncton has 1-2, therefore both Chris Collins and Joan MacAlpine-Stiles will be added to the cabinet.

Therefore, here is how I see the cabinet shaping up (+ dontes added responsibilities, - denotes some responsibilities removed, * denotes new role and/or department, n/c denotes no change):

Shawn Graham (-)
Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport

Hedard Albert (*)
Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

Donald Arseneault (n/c)
Minister of Natural Resources

Victor Boudreau (n/c)
Minister of Finance
Minister of Local Government

T. J. Burke (n/c)
Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Attorney General

Greg Byrne (*)
Minister of Self-Sufficiency and Economic Development

Chris Collins (*)
Minister of State for Youth, Retention and Repatriation

Ed Doherty (*)
Minister of Aboriginal and Intergovernmental Affairs

Rick Doucet (*)
Minister of Human Resources

John Foran (n/c)
Minister of Public Safety

Roland Hache (n/c)
Minister of Environment

Stuart Jamieson (-)
Minister of Tourism & Parks

Jack Keir (n/c)
Minister of Energy

Kelly Lamrock (n/c)
Minister of Education

Denis Landry (n/c)
Minister of Transportation

Joan MacAlpine-Stiles (*)
Minister of State for Seniors and Minister of State for Housing

Roly MacIntyre (+/-)
Minister of Supply and Services
Government House Leader

Mike Murphy (n/c)
Minister of Health

Ron Ouellette (n/c)
Minister of Agriculture and Aquaculture

Carmel Robichaud (*)
Minister of Fisheries
Minister responsible for the Status of Women

Mary Schryer (*)
Minister of Family & Community Services

I kind of made up a few new portfolios on the fly here, including creating a new super ministry, the Department of Self-Sufficiency and Economic Development, which would merge Business New Brunswick, the Regional Development Corporation, the Population Growth Secretariat, etc. This seems to have been foreshadowed in last months deputy minister shuffle when the deputy minister for self-sufficiency added Business New Brunswick to his responsibilities. Also we get a Minsiter of State for Youth, Retention and Repatriation who would have responsibility for the Youth Council and delegated authority from the new super ministry to tackle the probelms of youth leaving and getting them home.

My justification for the other changes:

  • Albert has had a light portfolio and capable of taking on more and is a former college instructor and has two degrees from UdeM where the L'Ecuyer-Miner Commission is also unpopular

  • Doherty seems to have had some success in Aboriginal Affairs so it makes sense to keep him there, the combination of Intergovernmental Affairs and taking PSE away from a Saint John minister is explained above

  • Doucet's calm demeanor would be a good fit for Human Resources

  • Giving MacAlpine-Stiles only a junior role seems to be a good middle ground between not wanting to alienate your backbench by rewarding a floor crosser and needing women and Monctonians in cabinet

  • MacIntyre is a veteran legislator and very strong willed, he therefore is a good fit for House Leader who must not only know parliamentary procedure but be willing to stare down his opposition counterpart in negotiations

  • Fisheries is a logical fit for Robichaud, the MLA for Neguac

  • Schryer is due for a promotion and with responsibility for Housing and Seniors she is already well engaged with much of the Department of Family & Community Services


EMJ said...

I guess it would make sense to leave Murphy in Health a little longer to allow him to crash and burn some more.

nbpolitico said...

Well as he is in the middle of several supposedly major rejigs of of health one to be announced this fall and one in the spring it wouldn't make a lot of sense for him to be moved, no.

Not sure how you see him as crashing and burning? He has had one of the stronger performances of ministers IMHO. What are you seeing that I'm not?

Anonymous said...

MacIntyre has his own serious health problems. I think Kelly Lamrock may be new House Leader if he has time given his major portfolio.

Murphy has never accepted Graham as a leader. All the revolts in the caucus, when in opposition, were attributed to Murphy. Graham may like him to crash and burn. IMHO he has performed exceptionally poorly so far. Pushing for private health care is not going to help him.

If Graham keeps MacAlpine out he will be doing a favour to himself. She is trouble.

Anonymous said...

Yeah private health care is what did in Ralph Klein (and he was a very popular Premier!), imagine what it can do to Murphy!

Also, did you see the story in the Telegraph Journal today about the Electronic Health Records? Another can of worms that Murphy is opening!

Anonymous said...

Electronic Health Records scare the hell out of me. Your health records can be available to any geek who knows how to break into electronic data. Electronic records can get into the hands of criminals. It is dangerous and scary through and through. A thorough protection is needed but if these geeks can break into Pentagon electronic records then what is safe when it comes to electronic records.

NB taxpayer said...

Taxes are through the roof and you are advocating increasing the size of government and the amount of bureaucratic positions. Huh? Did I miss something? I thought your government said we were in for some economic uncertainty in the road ahead.

Since that doesn't appear to be the case (according to you) maybe your government will reconsider the march tax hike and give the surplus back to the people instead of creating, as you say, a new SUPER ministry. Yikes!! That even sounds big for a tax-and-spend Liberal.

nbpolitico said...

Ok first of all, this is a wild guess. Second of all, the super ministry that I am refering too, would be super in terms of size because it would be a merger of a department, a crown corporation and several agencies. That would make it cost lost because administration and overhead costs would be eliminated with everything coming under one umbrella.

Kevin said...

Murphy won't be shuffled... this time. As NBPolitico says, there's a lot of rejigs going on and it wouldn't make sense at this point.

However... the clock is ticking on Murphy - privitization, electronic health records - a disaster waiting to happen.

And his little "weathergirl" comment didn't endear him very well either.

Anonymous said...

I'm a dye in the wool Liberal -- Robichaud and McKenna were our greatest Premiers and I know Graham will follow in thier tradition -- but, it hurts me to say, I don't care much for that Murphy, arrogant and a rabble-rouser (trying to push out Graham).

I don't like that MacAlpine much either. Why should a floor-crosser be rewarded over those who've been with the party from day 1, in it's days of opposition.

I like Chris Collins alot and I hope he gets in Cabinet. Stuart Jamieson is a good person too.

Pete said...

Intersting analysis NBPolitico. I'm looking forward to seeing how close your predictions are. Your reasoning seems logical.

As for Health, I don't understand the harsh resistance to exploring the potential for electronic health records. We have electronic banking records and nobody seems to care. It burns me up when people complain about an inefficient health care system and then complain about new ideas to improve efficiency and safe money.

Of course there's a need for careful implementation, and the Liberals aren't going into it haphazardly. They're looking at revamping all legislation related to protection of personal information.

It's pretty likely that in ten years time that the majority of the developed world will be evolving towards e-health records anyway. Why not be a leader?

nbpolitico said...

Indeed pete - a number of other provinces are already well done the road to e-health records. It is cheaper and it is safer. If you go in to a hospital in Moncton but you are a regular patient at a clinic in Dalhousie, your doctor is going to be able to know your medical history, etc, etc which isn't the case now. It will also prevent the abuse of prescription drugs as doctors at different clinics will know that you've already been prescribed.

The Liberals have launched two commissions - one on e-health and one on protection of private information to protect this stuff and the fear of hacking only comes in to play when stuff is shared over the internet; New Brunswick is geographically small enough to do it all through an internal network and if they go that route, there really would be no fear at all.

As for privatization, I am not sure what musings people are referring to, but if it is the renting out of unused ORs in the middle of the night, then why not? If you had vacant office space in a building, would you refuse to rent it to the Christian Heritage Party because you oppose them on ideology? Similarly, if you don't support private health care, what is wrong with offsetting the costs of public care by renting out the facilities on off hours? It isn't providing provincial funding to these operations, quite to the contrary, it is taking money from the private sector and investing it in the public.

Anonymous said...

NBPolitico, got to differ on e-health. Someone referred to banks. Banks are supposed to be the most secure systems. Millions of dollars worth of frauds take place every year through identity theft and siphoning off people's account.

Read today's Telegraph and you will understand that the province is not ready for e-health.

Private health is indeed a Pandora’s Box. Ralph Klein was very popular and in a very rich province. May be people can afford private health care but still it did him in.

Murphy is not popular and we are not a rich province, therefore it is going to be crash and burn for him. May be that is what Graham wants.

Anonymous said...

Interesting predictions (as always). I would tend to agree with many of them and your rationale for your choices is good, even if not agreed upon by everyone.

I do have to disagree with the commentator regarding the size of government. The size of cabinet does not necesarily mean a larger bureaucracy but shifting the workloads and employees to more coordinated/aligned positions. This could prevent duplication in day-to-day activities as well as help develop more streamlined programs and services for NBers.

I do like the idea of a Minister of State for Youth, Retention and Repatriation but would put the Population Growth Secretariat with them rather than the BNB/RDC department and I think Chris Collins would be a great choice for such a portfolio.

Now it is just to play the waiting game to see what the Premier announces.

NB taxpayer said...

"...administration and overhead costs would be eliminated ..."

So I guess you are predicting that there will be staffing cuts to BNB and the population growth secretariat. Didn't they already reduce BNB's annual budget? Gee, if that's the case, it could be devastating for those who are holding down a job there.

Either that or basically you are just hoping that people will notice you are right on your predictions regardless of the fiscal ramifications. I think it's probably the latter.

emj said...

If there's empty beds shouldn't they be actually used by patients?
Mike Murphy has more in mind too than just renting out empty hospital rooms.

Also, they did a survey of waiting times in hospitals, they aren't as bad as widely believed - it seems it's something politicians in favour of privitization (such as Mike Murphy) like to say.

Mike Murphy's PR skills are also really bad too - I haven't heard good things about him.

Anonymous said...

TJ Burke had to deal with alot of tough issues (such as the caisse populaires) as well as personal attacks - which is hard for any Minister much less a rookie Minister - but he's handled it well. I'm very impressed with him.

I also like the government's emphasis on Aboriginal issues (it's about time there was action on this) and TJ Burke has been playing an important role in this.

nbpolitico said...

So I guess you are predicting that there will be staffing cuts to BNB and the population growth secretariat. Didn't they already reduce BNB's annual budget? Gee, if that's the case, it could be devastating for those who are holding down a job there.

Uhhh, well I would assume that BNB and RDC at least have their own payroll departments, own HR, etc. You would need only one such unit for one department. That is just common sense. Mergers always result in reduced overhead because there is inevitably duplication in two organizations that is not required in one.

If there's empty beds shouldn't they be actually used by patients?

I already had this debate months ago. It is about using operating rooms on weekends and in the middle of the night when we don't use them.

Anonymous said...

Strong Cabinet Ministers (in terms performance and those that I think are good people overall):
Kelly Lamrock, Greg Byrne, TJ Burke, Stuart Jamieson, Ed Doherty, Roland Hache, Roly MacIntyre

Would like to see in Cabinet: Abel LeBlanc and Chris Collins

Weak Links: Joan MacAlpine and Mike Murphy.

NB taxpayer said...

You're all over the place and not making much sense, nbp. Maybe you should conduct a review on what you just said above so you can come up with "no answer" down the road, and by god, we'll pay for it.

In Liberals circles, I think they call it a task force or study??

I call it strategic delay.

CE said...

NBpolitico could you drop em an email when you get a chance please? Thanks