Premier Christy Clark spouted the usual blather in a news release announcing a minor cabinet shuffle.
Here's what she said:
“Today’s changes are about making sure British Columbians in every region benefit from our plan to create jobs by growing our strong and diverse economy," said Clark. “We have the opportunity now to build on a record of student achievement with long-term labour peace in place, to strengthen our support for small business, which is the backbone of our economy, to work together with communities to prepare for the future, and to put in place a plan to prevent and manage emergencies or natural disasters so that our province can recover with our future secured.”
Here's what the premier meant:
• I've taken away responsibility for the Liquor Distribution Branch from Justice Minister Suzanne Anton because she's become a favourite target of the NDP's David Eby. Anton has been a disaster with this file.
• I've given responsibility for the Liquor Distribution Branch to another one of my most loyal rookie MLAs, Coralee Oakes. That's because Oakes, like Anton, will still follow Deputy Premier Rich Coleman's instructions on how to maximize government revenue while pleasing billionaire grocery barons who will be major campaign contributors in 2017. But I believe that Oakes will be a better salesperson than Anton.
• I've taken away the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development from Oakes. That's because I need a former public-relations executive (Peter Fassbender) to manage communications with municipal politicians leading up to the next election. Fassbender used to be a big shot at the Union of B.C. Municipalities and he knows how those people think.
• I've given responsibility for TransLink to Fassbender because he's just as good at public relations as TransLink's biggest nemesis, Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. They're both from Langley and if anyone can shut up Bateman, it will be Fassbender. That's crucial as we try to get a rapid-transit project started in Surrey before the 2017 election.
• I didn't want to dump Oakes from cabinet because she represents a swing seat, Cariboo North, which is central to our reelection strategy. So I bumped up small business from a "minister of state" responsibility to a full cabinet post with a deputy minister. This should help bring the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses more onside before the next election.
• I had to do something with Naomi Yamamoto, who was the minister of state for small business. I'm never going to make her a cabinet minister with her own deputy minister because she refused to back my leadership bid. So instead, I'll have her report to another one of my favourite rookies, Todd Stone, who's the minister of transportation and infrastructure. Yamamoto can be the minister of state for emergency preparedness. Then if there's a problem with forest fires or an unexpected earthquake, she can be blamed.
• I'm making Mike Bernier the minister of education because someone has to fill Fassbender's shoes. Bernier's a former mayor of Dawson Creek and he represents Peace River South, which is where there's lots of natural gas. If I'm going to start talking about climate change publicly to keep urban voters, I have to send a signal that an MLA from the gas-producing region has a voice at the table. If he's overseeing education, maybe he can help those folks at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers who want to influence what's happening in classrooms. Plus, I like appointing rookies to cabinet and letting competent veterans like Gordon Hogg and Moira Stilwell know that they'll pay a price for not backing my leadership campaign.
• I'm making Jordan Sturdy the new parliamentary secretary for energy literacy. He'll replace Bernier. Why? Because Sturdy is keenly interested in run-of-river power and he's a former mayor, like Bernier. They both have good relationships with municipal politicians, which might come in handy when we want to recruit candidates for the 2017 campaign. Besides, Sturdy's a rookie and I prefer promoting politicians who didn't serve under Gordon Campbell.