Shirley Bond is B.C.’s Finance Minister – but she should probably hold off on reprinting her business cards.
Less than two hours after Ms. Bond was named as the acting finance minister, Premier Christy Clark announced there will be a cabinet shuffle next week.
Ms. Clark would not say who will take over the finance portfolio full-time, but indicated it won’t be Ms. Bond, who already serves as Attorney-General and Justice Minister.
“You’ll see when I have a chance to renew the cabinet in the coming days,” Ms. Clark told reporters after she was asked about her confidence in the next budget. “I’ll let you make that judgment about whether the minister who takes over is someone British Columbians can have confidence in. I’m absolutely confident that they will.”
Ms. Clark said a cabinet shuffle has been in the works for “some time now.”
“That cabinet will be a cabinet that is ready to take on the task over the next eight months and into the election, of making sure that we are assuring the future for B.C. families, creating jobs all across the province, and making it possible for our kids and our grandkids to take advantage of the kinds of opportunities that we had,” she said.
Kevin Falcon, who resigned as finance minister Wednesday, is the latest – and highest profile – Liberal MLA to rule out a re-election bid, but not the first. And Education Minister George Abbott is expected to follow.
Ms. Clark said she expects more cabinet members to decide against running for office next May, though she declined to identify them.
“It’s my preference where ministers would like to make the announcement themselves to allow them to do that,” said the Premier. “I can tell you, when I left public life, it was one of the most emotional days I’d had in my life. It’s an important decision and it’s a decision that I think ministers deserve the right to talk about themselves.”
Ms. Clark was first elected to the B.C. Legislature in 1996, but resigned in 2005 for personal reasons. When former premier Gordon Campbell announced he would leave office, Ms. Clark left her job as a radio talk-show host to run for the B.C. Liberal leadership. She was sworn in as Premier in March, 2011.
Norman Ruff, political-science professor emeritus at the University of Victoria, said in an interview Wednesday that a cabinet shuffle could be a way to “change the channel” and start fresh.
When asked what a new cabinet might look like, Mr. Ruff said he expects Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, to take over the finance portfolio.
“He’s performed well. He’s been a good spokesperson on economic issues and that’s going to be central to the budget. Whoever does finance is putting together an important document for the next election,” Mr. Ruff said.
Though Ms. Clark said “there’s a lot of talent” to choose from her caucus, Mr. Ruff disagreed.
“Christy Clark’s a cabinet maker [but] she’s stuck with the wood that she’s got,” he said. “Some pieces are a lot better than others.”