N.L. cabinet shuffle comes weeks before next premier confirmed
N.L. premier Tom Marshall is pictured at his swearing-in ceremony in St.John's, N.L. on Friday Jan. 24, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Paul Daly)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:46PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 1, 2014 2:25PM EDT
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Premier Tom Marshall of Newfoundland and Labrador shuffled his cabinet Thursday, two months before a Progressive Conservative convention is expected to confirm the leadership of his successor, Frank Coleman.
Marshall said he is interim premier and when asked by reporters whether Coleman had any input on the shuffle, he said that wasn't the case.
"You shouldn't leave ministers in a department for too long a period of time," Marshall said. "I think it's good to bring a fresh perspective and that's what I wanted to do."
Marshall said he had planned a major shuffle earlier but was waiting to see if cabinet ministers would step down to seek the Tory party leadership. None did.
"It just took awhile to get around to it because of different circumstances."
The changes see Susan Sullivan leave her post as health minister to become innovation minister, a position she previously held. Paul Davis, the former minister of child, youth and family services, will take over the health portfolio.
In recent months, there have been shifting messages about the contentious issue of radiation services for a new hospital planned for Corner Brook on Newfoundland's west coast. But Marshall said that had nothing to do with booting Sullivan from health.
Sullivan has for months said the population does not support such services. But Marshall has recently changed tack, saying the issue is being studied.
And Coleman, set to be coronated as the uncontested new Tory leader July 5 and sworn in as premier soon after, has indicated the new hospital should have radiation treatments.
"New information comes," Marshall said. "So that's not necessarily a difference of agreement. It's just that new information came to our attention."
Other changes announced Thursday include Terry French moving from tourism to justice, Darin King leaving justice for education and Sandy Collins will move to the front benches for the first time, becoming tourism minister.
It's the second cabinet shuffle since Marshall took over as premier on Jan. 24 after Kathy Dunderdale resigned.
Liberal Opposition Leader Dwight Ball said Thursday that the shuffle was unnecessary and a waste of public money.
Coleman must call an election under provincial law within 12 months of being sworn in as premier.