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.