A cabinet shuffle was announced today with significant changes in responsibilities for forestry. View N.S. premier shuffles several cabinet positions, creates new mines department. By Michael MacDonald, THE CANADIAN PRESS Published Thursday, July 5, 2018 in Global News.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil shuffled his cabinet Thursday, saying he wants his Liberal government to focus more of its attention on the province’s mining and forestry industries.
The changes come as the government adjusts to a shrinking offshore energy sector and increasing scrutiny about the amount of clear-cutting taking place in the province’s forests.
One new minister was added to the cabinet — former Progressive Conservative Chuck Porter is now the minister for municipal affairs — and three other ministers were given new duties.
Margaret Miller, the former natural resources minister, has been appointed as environment minister, replacing Iain Rankin. Miller served as environment minister between 2016 and the most recent cabinet shuffle in June 2017.
“There’s been a renewed focus on the forestry sector,” McNeil said after a brief swearing-in ceremony at the lieutenant-governor’s official residence.
Clear-cutting and other forestry practices in Nova Scotia will be highlighted in a highly anticipated report by University of King’s College president William Lahey, which is expected to be released soon.
In 2016, McNeil backed away from a previously stated goal of reducing clear-cutting on Crown land by 50 per cent.
As well, the government has faced criticism for allowing the harvesting of old-growth forests in eastern Nova Scotia.
McNeil said Miller would not have been a good fit for the lands and forestry portfolio because she has a background in forestry.
“I wanted to avoid the suggestion there was a conflict with minister Miller,” he said.
Rankin is now the minister of lands and forestry, which is what remains of the Natural Resources Department now that responsibility for mines has been shifted to the new Energy and Mines Department. Derek Mombourquette, the former minister of municipal affairs, will lead that department.
I wasn’t surprised that Mining was split off from the rest. NSDNR was doing a lot hiring in the geology area, and as I noted on May 11 “Julie Towers [expenses showed she] spent quite a bit of time with Miners, so ‘wonder if anything is up on that front. (Gossip, best ignored!)”