Bennett resigns, cabinet shuffled
Lisa Dempster in, Perry Trimper out
ST.JOHN’S, NL — It started with the surprise resignation of Cathy Bennett as minister of Finance, but by the end of the day last Monday, Premier Dwight Ball had shuffled his cabinet well beyond just replacing one senior minister.
Speaker Tom Osborne will become the new minister of Finance, returning for the first time in a decade after he was dropped by then-premier Danny Williams, way back when Osborne was a Progressive Conservative MHA.
Osborne inherits a deficit of nearly $800 million, and an extremely difficult contract negotiation process with the province’s public sector unions.
While there have been rumblings for weeks about a mid-summer cabinet shuffle, Bennett’s resignation came as a total shock to most political watchers.Bennett would not do interviews Monday, and in a news release she was quoted as saying the resignation was because of “numerous personal reasons.” She is expected to stay on as MHA for Windsor Lake.
On Monday, Ball also shuffled Gerry Byrne from Advanced Education, Skills and Labour to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.
Steve Crocker moved from Fisheries to the Department of Transportation.
Al Hawkins went from Transportation to Advanced Education, Skills and Labour.
Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster was also brought into cabinet Monday as Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development. The former minister for that department, Sherry Gambin-Walsh, was moved to the Service NL portfolio.
That frees up Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper, who was dropped from cabinet.
But Ball said Trimper will likely find a soft landing in the speaker’s chair in the House of Assembly this fall.
“He’s somebody that I think would actually make a fantastic speaker,” Ball said. “I’ll be asking our caucus to support Perry as speaker of the House of Assembly.”
The shuffle comes just after the cabinet’s summer retreat in Deer Lake. It’s the first major shake-up since the Liberals formed the government in 2015.
Premier Dwight Ball speaks to reporters Monday following his announcement of a cabinet shuffle.