On Friday Premier Christy Clark unveiled her new Cabinet, for the first time truly her Cabinet. First look on the list of names included in new BC Executive Council tells us that Premier decided to make mix of old and new, some Campbell era influencers with many rookies who are not maybe experienced on provincial level but certainly they’re on the municipal level. I would say that I’m surprised with some choices but about that a bit later. Focus of this government as Premier said that on Friday and previously during campaign weeks will remain on the economy and jobs creation, with additional focus on gas business which is suppose to help her reach her goal to balance a budget. Very interesting element here is that Premier Clark gave an exceptional number of positions to MLA’s from Surrey-Langley area which shows influential shift from Vancouver area to so-called suburbs which are rising to the position of municipal, political and economical leaders of the province.
“My new team has the experience and the fresh perspectives that government needs, representing all regions of the province and united by a common commitment to work on behalf of every British Columbian. Together, we have the opportunity and obligation to grow the economy, control spending, and put B.C. firmly on track to a debt-free future”, said Premier on Friday.
Over the first two years of her premiership Christy Clark was unable or was not skillful enough to fulfill all her promises. Families First agenda which was one of the flagship promises during her leadership run didn’t delivered in all promised areas, but now Clark has a great opportunity to deliver it. Everything will be easier now for her and the BC Liberals team because they have even stronger majority now. That will give them chance to introduce all planned legislative acts, advance their agenda, but also to cooperate with local municipalities on important issues. Having so many MLA with extensive municipal politics experience will help Premier Clark to reach easier to people on local levels. When you have for example people like Sam Sullivan, Peter Fassbender and Marvin Hunt then you have very serious sources of informations and ability to reach different groups to gather additional intelligence data before creating final product and passing it to the legislature for approval.
Now back to some specific names and position on which they’re placed. New education minister will be Peter Fassbender, former Langley Mayor and once school trustee. Education is one of the hot seats in BC government which will play significant role in judging overall governmental performance or ability to deliver promises. Fassbender is bringing in more than two decades of municipal political experience, negotiating practices which will help him to deal one of the strongest BC unions BCTF. First opinions from BCTF and Vancouver Board of Education are positive new minister is welcomed, but final judgment will come when they start working on negotiations.
“We hope he will come into his role with the goal of making public education the best it can be in B.C. (and) that means bringing resources to the table,” said outgoing BCTF president Susan Lambert in an interview.
Many Surrey residents will be happy to see Amrik Virk or Stephanie Cadieux in the Cabinet on very influential positions. Future Minister Virk will work on advanced education and will have a chance to deliver good results when in this area replacing Naomi Yamamoto. Surrey connection will have strong bond here because he’s closest partner in Cabinet will be Peter Fassbender. Cadieux is coming back to the position where she was prior to elections. If she didn’t delivered enough or at the highest level which was expected from those who are users of services of Ministry of Children and Family Development. This will play significant role in cooperation between province and the City of Surrey which is largest municipal area at the moment, with 1/3 of population under the age of 18, which will almost certainly be in the focus of three Surrey MLA’s/Ministers in Clark government. Surrey needs many new school objects, reconstruction on many is over due by few decades and City by itself is not able to solve this critical situation.
One of Surrey newly elected MLA’s, also incumbent Councillor, Marvin Hunt was expected to be part of the Cabinet based on his years of experience in municipal politics, all Metro Vancouver bodies, but Premier Clark didn’t go with those expectations. Watching from the side I would say that MLA/Cllr Hunt was somehow punished for the media pressure on Premier regarding his unwillingness to resign from Surrey City Council, suspicions that he’s gonna double-dip.
Having said all above it’s clear that Surrey/Langley area will have significant voice around the government table due to 5 ministers coming from this fast growing and developing area. Mayor of Surrey Dianne Watts for sure will be one of the happiest people in the province having three ministers from her own municipality in Clark’s Cabinet room over the next few years. Now let’s just hope that all promises will be fulfilled, that agenda will be quality and in the best interests of BC citizens.