The most important question is why

At 2:00 today, Premier Gordon Campbell announced a minor cabinet shuffle - surprising many members of the chattering classes. Talk of a shuffle had been circulating for a number of weeks. Few, though - including your humble organ - had put much credence in those rumours. Hey, everyone makes mistakes. But what was the reason behind that shuffle? To find out, Public Eye canvassed the opinions of a number of insiders. The following is their assembled wisdom and first impressions.

Tom Christensen (from aboriginal relations and reconciliation to children and family development): Some say Minister Christensen's "cerebral" style will be an asset at children and family development - as will his background in aboriginal relations and reconciliation. But that background is also a cause for concern among those who worry the ministry may be forgetting about its non-aboriginal clients. And Minister Christensen, who previously handled the education file, has never been responsible for a portfolio as controversial as this one - rarely rising to his feet in the legislature.

Mike de Jong (from labour and citizens' services to aboriginal relations and reconciliation): There seems to be a consensus that the West Annex wanted a more "extroverted" approach to First Nations issues than the one offered by Minister Christensen. And there was some thinking that Minister de Jong would be better at working with the Harper administration on that file and promoting the Liberal's accomplishments. But one wonders how much influence he will really have over that ministry? After all, Premier Campbell and his deputy Jessica McDonald, are notorious for meddling in its affairs.

Stan Hagen (from children and family development to tourism, sport and the arts): Minister Hagen has always been at his best when making good news announcements. And children and family development had few of those. So this post should be a better fit for him - one where his contacts with the First Nations community will be instrumental in promoting aboriginal tourism projects. But the fact he's been shuffled out of children and family development at a time when it's undergoing a massive reorganization, reinforces the notion that elected officials have little importance within the Campbell administration. Instead, it's the premier's unelected advisors - such as the children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit and Ms. McDonald - who have the real power. Rumours also persist Minister Hagen's relationship with Ms. du Toit was not what it could/should have been.

Gordon Hogg (from caucus chair to minister of state responsible for ActNow BC): The Doug Walls affair almost claimed the political life of Mr. Hogg - who was resigned as the minister of children and family development following a Public Eye investigation that uncovered evidence of mismanagement and financial improprieties within his department. But, given his friendship with the premier and popularity among caucus members, it's not surprising he's been invited back into cabinet as a junior executive council member.

Olga Ilich (from tourism, sport and the arts to labour and citizens' services): Minister Ilich has had some challenges moving from private to public life - according to legislative corridor talk. And she's rumoured to have butted heads with former star Liberal candidate cum deputy minister Virginia Greene - who departed tourism, sport and the arts for intergovernmental affairs back in April. So it comes as no surprise that Minister Ilich - who's said to have also disliked the travel associated with her old portfiolo - is being shuffled to a file that has become much thinner since the Campbell administration bought/brought public sector labour peace to British Columbia.

15 Comments

I think why is a fair question and you have given a reasoned look at the recent moves. No question Hagen had to go and he likely was the reason why the shuffling started. The only real question is why leave him in cabinet at all ? I think Christensen is a good choice as a replacement, he seems like a sensible down to earth type and is not some hardcore partisan zinger like some. Anything that can help de-politicize this Ministry will help and I think this is the right guy for that.

I see Illich as a demotion. The Liberals have been putting lots of money into tourism and with 2010 on the way it is an important ministry, all the more puzzling why Hagen was put there. With all of the contracts out of the way Labor is now effectively in hibernation and makes a good home for a dysfunctional bear.

My guess is that Christensen was placed in McFamily before DeJong was selected in Aboriginal Affairs. No question that this was an easy choice and the guy is both qualified and well suited for the job.

Making a mini-Ministry for Hogg I just don't get. I can't wait to see who Carole James selects as the critic for the 'exercise' mini-Ministry. I see this one as dumb.

I score this as 3 out of a possible 5.

Hogg is the new Minister of Fruits and Vegetables predicted a year ago by Carole James. The extra fibre should do him good. De Jong is the showman for what they hope will be a big year for Aboriginal Relations. Grumpy Olga is parked, and even the charismatic Hagen should be able to generate more excitement in Tourism. Christensen manages to stay out of the headlines even when he's trying to get in them, so he's a good fit for the Ministry of Hell.

Has anyone recently seen Hogg? He's not buff
and not the picture of a Minister who should
be leading a Minister of Excercise and Grazing.

What would be his Ministrial attire? Nike sweat
pants, runners and hoodie?


Kind of expensive.

The taxpayers will have to pay for his increased salary to lead very little, he'll get a few
additional staff (most likely from the pool of
Legislative Asssitant hacks who are probably running to his door right now and who knows
what else.

A bit of a nothing Ministry.

What are the staff assignments for the new Ministers? Any notable shuffles?

Along with Rich Coleman, Mike de Jong is the major Liberal MLA from the Fraser Valley. Why he is getting moved around like this, and why Coleman was shuffled out of his beloved Sol-Gen post so easily I really don't know. It implies that the City types around Campbell want to keep the Valley types hopping, to prevent them from taking root and gaining strenght. But it that's true, ... why is Falcon being given such a wide berth?

Better have a coffee, Budd. Did you notice how little de Jong had to do with the settlement with your beloved unions? He was the point man against the teachers in the last election, so he wasn't right for a time of peace. Coleman's overrated, both as a minister and as leadership material. And this isn't a good time to change ministers in Forests. As for Falcon, he's just doing a darn fine job.

Well done Gordon Hogg! An earned return to cabinet.

If only all of the previously fallen had ever comported themselves so well.

Now if we could just deal with Hagen-Dunce.....

With Minister Christensen in place as the new "lead", it looks like we're all set for an exciting new Fall season of "Yes, Minister" at MCFD.

Those looking for a dull season might consider switching to a different channel, however. As "devolution" gathers pace beyond community living and CLBC, expect dramatic interest revolving around who gets power/who doesn't and who gets the blame when the same old problems (and maybe new ones) return under new configurations. Then of course there's also the flagship of devolution, CLBC, where the rubber of rhetoric and vision is finally landing hard in the unforgiving limelight of reality.

Can the Minister's new nemesis steal the show again like the previous Opposition Critic? Will the new Children's Representative emerge as a new leading light? What unexpected new scandals and plotlines will pop up as they finally run out of excuses for stalling FOIs? Will the pundits report on the adults, children and families in crisis being turned away while provincial coffers overflow with gold? If they do, will the audience hiss and boo?

Alas, nothing will change until someone clarifies what exactly it is that this Ministry is supposed to do for children, families and developmentally disabled adults. (And no, devolution, person-centred thinking and relationships based on trust are not ends in themselves, all the grandstanding and oration and lofty visions of the past five years notwithstanding.)

But of course, clarifying the mandate will point directly to the need for real accountability and the resources needed to get the job done, which of course runs smack against the ideology of downsizing government and letting people solve their own problems, so don't hold your breath.

Still, one can indulge in a summer daydream of Minister Christensen persuading his boss to let him accomplish just that during the upcoming season, thus achieving more than anyone in the past decade and helping MCFD to break the tired and tragic old sitcom rut it's stuck in.

any word on staffing changes?

"Better have a coffee, Budd. Did you notice how little de Jong had to do with the settlement with your beloved unions?"

Thanks for offering to buy coffee John. Did you notice that de Jong expressed no interest whatever in being moved, that this is an involuntary move on his part? That's the point I am trying to make here.

BTW, I take it from your expression "your beloved unions" that you regard anyone who is not contemptous of organized labour as being somewhat contemptible themselves, and for that very reason. Would that be about right?

Actually, Budd, some of my best friends are union members. I just don't think they should be the driving government policy.
Here's a coffee (_)@

One can only hope that with Christensen in the driver's seat, DM du Toit may be wise enough to drop the touchy feely but very contradictory and controlling style and actually let mcfd staff do their jobs without her insisting on micromanaging everything!

"Actually, Budd, some of my best friends are union members."

Posted by John Savory on August 16, 2006 03:32 PM

ROTFLMAO! Where and when was the last time I heard that telling phrase!

'Rumours also persist Minister Hagen's relationship with Ms. du Toit was not what it could/should have been.'

You've got that right, Sean, but du Toit isn't going to be able to push her new boss around like she attempted to do to Hagen. The view on the ground is more about Christensen being brought in to control HER. She has already alienated a number of MCFD staff who don't appreciate being told that their work prior to her appearance has been ineffective.

Christensen was sent to MCFD to make sure that Campbell doesn't end up losing a lot of face for having brought her in to begin with.

I think Ms Steele is right on the money - as usual, when it comes to MCFD and CLBC. What can you tell us about CLBC delaying disclosure of FOI requests? Have they something to hide?

Also where is the Privacy Commissioner on this?

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