One word for Clark’s cabinet announcement: bizarre

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
June 13, 2017 - 5:00am
Image Credit: BC Government

KAMLOOPS — ‘Bizarre’ is an over-used word when it comes to politics, but it fits the latest act in the Victoria gong show — namely, Monday’s unveiling of Christy Clark’s ‘new’ cabinet.

If her list of appointments to the executive council looks familiar rather than new, that’s because it is. For the most part, those who were already in cabinet — and that’s most of them — got to keep the jobs they already had. One of them is Todd Stone, who remains the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Mary Polak, who was environment minister since 2013, takes over Terry Lake’s vacated health portfolio. (As a side note, Clark confirmed the next speaker will come from the Liberal ranks. It won’t be Linda Reid, who was speaker during the last term, as she’s now Minister of Advanced Education.)

There are five new cabinet ministers for a total of 22, plus 13 parliamentary secretaries. The latter are, basically, cabinet ministers in training, but they receive extra pay as do full ministers.

Now listen to Clark’s characterization of her cabinet in a press release: “Our province needs a strong economy, one capable of supporting the services and high quality of life that British Columbians expect and deserve. But the public has also said they want us to do things differently to address areas that impact their lives and their families every day – this new cabinet reflects that message.”

In the world according to Clark, voters decided they wanted to do things differently, and the cabinet she announced on Monday “reflects that message.”

How does a cabinet made up of the same people who were in it before, plus a few new ones to fill vacancies, represent a different way of doing things?

Not that leaving the old ministers where they were doesn’t make sense, but calling it a change in direction is gilding the lily to say the least.

Clark went on to say, “For as long as we have the confidence of the legislature, we will work to bridge this gap, and create an environment where both resource-dependent communities and dynamic, tech-focused urban centres thrive, and create opportunities for each other.”

This sounds like it could be a recap of the upcoming Speech from the Throne, the one that will be presented a couple of days or so before the NDP and Greens combine forces to throw the Liberals out of office.

Apparently, Clark wasn’t paying attention to the Armchair Mayor on Friday when this advice was offered: “The only thing that makes sense is for Clark to re-appoint current cabinet ministers to the same jobs they have now, let the ministries that don’t have ministers limp along without them for a little longer, and save some moving expenses and ministerial paycheques.”

As an option, she could have doubled up a few ministries. For example, named Stone to both the transportation and health portfolios, if there’s a need to sign some letters and such.

But to appoint a full cabinet for the sake of a couple of weeks is pointless and, well, bizarre.