05 July 2006

Williams boosts size of cabinet in wake of scandal

Updated: 15:30 hrs 05 Jul 06

Danny Williams increased the size of his cabinet today in the wake of a growing scandal over spending within the House of Assembly.

Kevin O'Brien, a pharmacist from Gander, takes over the Department of Business. Known at Bond papers as the Department of Danny this was supposed to be the centre of major new policy initiatives to develop the economy. Instead it turned out to be a backwater. Reputedly, the deputy minister of the department had great difficulty getting in to see the minister in a timely way. until this morning, Danny was the Minister of Business.

Kathy Dunderdale replaces Ed Byrne as Minister of Natural Resources. Byrne is under investigation for alleged overpayments on his House allowances. Dunderdale's appointment increases the Premier's control over the direction of oil and gas policy in the province.

Replacing Dunderdale at Innovation, Trade and Rural Development will be Trevor Taylor.

Taking over Taylor's old job at Works and Transportation is Lake Melville MHA John Hickey.

St. John's South MHA Shawn Skinner is as parliamentary secretary to the Premier while Charlene Johnson holds the job of parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources.

That brings to 20 the number of government caucus members holding cabinet or parliamentary secretary/assistant portfolios. Of that number 15 are in cabinet, including Williams.

Roger Grimes' last cabinet numbered 19 including the Premier.