Another potent post for Kennedy
Carbonear-harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy has taken on yet another prominent role in the provincial cabinet, having been sworn in Friday as the Minister of Natural Resources, Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, and Government House Leader
As minister of Natural Resources, a post formerly held by Shawn Skinner, who was defeated in the Oct. 11 provincial election, Kennedy will be government’s point man on the controversial, complicated and very expensive Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
The project has been a dominant issue among pundits and politicians for many months, and there’s every indication it will continue to be well into the future as the government moves closer to officially sanctioning the multi-billion-dollar deal.
There are about as many different opinions on this file as there are twists and turns in the mighty Churchill River, and it will now be Kennedy’s job to explain the government’s position to the public. It won’t be an easy task, and that’s probably why Premier Kathy Dunderdale tapped Kennedy for the job.
Being put into such a high profile and important cabinet post is nothing new for Kennedy, who worked as a criminal lawyer before entering politics, where he earned a solid reputation as a defender of the wrongfully convicted. He spent the past two years as the Minister of Health and Community Services, a department that will operate this year with a record budget of $2.9 billion. During his tenure, he engaged in a very high profile and drawn out spat with the province’s doctors, and dealt with the fallout from the faulty breast cancer testing scandal.
He also served as Minister of Justice following his election in 2007 as MHA for Carbonear- Harbour Grace, a period that saw him lobby hard for federal funding to build a new federal penitentiary in the province, and streamline the operations of the justice system.
Before taking on health, Kennedy served for a period as the minister of finance, effectively holding the purse strings at a time when money was gushing into the provincial coffers from offshore oil projects.
In military terms, a point man is a soldier who blazes a trail for his mates, putting him in a crucial, often hazardous position. It’s been obvious, both from his legal background and his career in politics, that Kennedy has the ability, confidence and commitment to be at the forefront of any enterprise.
We wish him luck with this latest assignment. The survival rate for a point man during wartime is among the lowest in any unit. Skinner stepped on his own political version of a landmine on Oct. 11. Time will tell if Kennedy can navigate his way through what’s sure to be some precarious and challenging times in the months and years ahead.