Quebec Premier Jean Charest says economic development is the driving force behind changes in cabinet unveiled Wednesday, a shuffle that follows the sudden resignation of Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau.
Four ministers changed portfolios, and the dean of the Liberal caucus and former Speaker Yvon Vallière returns to cabinet as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Education Minister Line Beauchamp was named Deputy Premier, ensuring that a woman continues to play the role of Mr. Charest’s second-in-command after Ms. Normandeau stepped down Tuesday. Clément Gignac moves from Economic Development to take over Ms. Normandeau's former portfolio at Natural Resources.
Mr. Gignac, an economist, will handle Mr. Charest's all-important Plan nord, as well as oversee the controversial development of the emerging shale-gas industry in the province. Mr. Gignac accompanied Mr. Charest on a trade mission to Japan and China last week to promote the plan and attract new foreign investment.
Mr. Gignac was replaced by Sam Hamad, who as transport minister was ridiculed this summer for his handling of Montreal's traffic woes. He is replaced by Pierre Moreau, who held the post of intergovernmental affairs minister and is, unlike Mr. Hamad, from the Montreal region.
Mr. Moreau is expected to bring much-needed credibility to the government’s efforts at resolving the numerous commuter complaints, caused by severe congestion on the Mercier and Champlain bridges linking the city to South Shore communities.
“The choices I make are always in relation to how we can focus on the economy as our priority and trying to put the right people in the right place,” Mr. Charest said after Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony.