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.

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