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Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Roger Grimes shuffled his cabinet Monday after four senior ministers resigned their posts last week.

Mr. Grimes, who is entering his third year as Premier after taking over from Brian Tobin, added five new faces to his Liberal government's cabinet and moved five more ministers to new portfolios on Monday.

New members appointed to the cabinet Monday include Wally Anderson as Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, Robert Mercer as Environment Minister; Yvonne Jones as both Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, George Sweeney for Government Services and Lands and James Walsh as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

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Five existing cabinet ministers will take on new portfolios, including Percy Barrett, named the new Labour Minister; Judy Foote, as the new Industry, Trade and Rural Development Minister; Walter Noel as the new Mines and Energy Minister; Gerry Reid as the new Education Minister and Anna Thistle as the new Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

The Premier said in a statement that the changes will "revitalize his government and provide an opportunity for fresh ideas and new enthusiasm."

He was forced to do the shuffle after Environment Minister Kevin Aylward, Mines and Energy Minister Lloyd Matthews, Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education Minister Sandra Kelly and Ernest McLean, Minister for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs all announced Friday that they will not run again.

Mr. Grimes thanked the four MHAs for their service in a statement Monday.

"To those Members of the House of Assembly who will no longer hold ministerial positions, I offer you the thanks and gratitude of myself and the whole government for the energy and dedication you brought to your positions," Mr. Grimes said.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives said last week that the departures signal dissatisfaction within the government.

Ed Byrne, the Conservative House leader, said last week that Mr. Grimes is losing his grip on his power.

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Not all of the MHAs said their decisions were related to the operation of the government. Mr. Matthews said he felt it was time to leave public life, and Mr. Aylward said he wanted to move into private life after 18 years in the legislature.

The Opposition called the announcements "a serious blow to the government."

Pundits suggested that the exit of so many politicians at one time signifies discord within the 13-year-old Liberal government.

"I think people are confused as to why this came about so suddenly," Christopher Dunn, a political scientist at Memorial University, told Canadian Press on Friday. "The fact they're doing it together ... there's some sort of revolt going on and internal discord that's apparent."

Mr. Grimes has told the province an election will be held either before the summer or in the fall. He said Monday in a statement that he will be looking at reducing the size of the cabinet "among other parliamentary reforms" after the next election.

With a report from Canadian Press

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