Top of Mind - March 14, 2011

What happens if one of the provincial Liberal leadership candidates doesn't make it into cabinet?

It's widely expected Christy Clark will appoint George Abbott, Kevin Falcon, Mike de Jong and Moira Stilwell to her cabinet. Indeed, it's almost certain Mr. Falcon will be British Columbia's next finance minister. As such, not naming one of the other three to executive council will provoke at least some reaction from the media and pundits. Most dangerous, would be keeping Mr. Abbott outside the tent given the strong support he received from caucus members - many of whom were disgruntled with the Campbell administration. So such a scenario is exceedingly unlikely - especially since it's rumoured Mr. Abbott will be named advanced education minister. It's also unlikely Ms. Clark will exclude Mr. de Jong. Even though he won no caucus support during the leadership race, he did win 789 first ballot votes, is one of only two lawyers in caucus and has been a MLA for the past 17 years. But what about Dr. Stilwell, who dropped out of the leadership race to support Mr. Abbott? She impressed the press gallery with her policies and good humour. But did she impress Ms. Clark?

What else should political watchers pay attention to as Ms. Clark and her cabinet are being sworn-in?

Who Ms. Clark chooses to staff the premier's office with will be important, as will the line-up of her deputy ministers. There's also talk the size of the West Annex could increase. And what happens to the government's existing political aides? After all, with Ms. Clark expected to reduce the size of cabinet from 23 to 18 members, there will likely be a commensurate reduction in the number of those aides.

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