03 July 2014

Avoiding a cabinet shuffle #nlpoli

By the end of the week,  Premier Tom Marshall will be short at least two cabinet ministers.

Paul Davis quit as health minister on Wednesday and Steve Kent is expected to follow on Thursday as both vie for the party leadership.

On top of that he’s missing Joan Shea who quit last month.

Some think Tom will shuffle the cabinet.  He could do that, except that he doesn’t really have much to shuffle with.  On top of that, he’d also be stuffing people into cabinet who the new leader might not want to face as a cabinet minister in the middle of September.

Tom doesn’t have to shuffle his cabinet at all.  This is the slow time of the year as Trevor Taylor laughingly put it or, to be more accurate,  everything is on hold anyway while the party sorts out its leadership mess.

Therefore, Tom can rely on his table of alternate ministers,  established by order in council at the last major shuffle in May.  That’s the official list of substitutions to cover periods when the appointed minister of a department is out of town or incapacitated.

Paul Davis is gone.  Between Susan Sullivan as first alternate and Sandy Collins as second, the job of health minister will get done.   And if Susan goes, Sandy can get the job as stand in.

Over in municipal affairs, Fairity O’Brien will fill in.

And if Susan Sullivan jumps into the race – as she should given Paul Davis’ weak, amateurish  launch on Wednesday - there’s someone to replace her, using the same table.

Pas de sweat.

If Tom needs to have someone fill in on a temporary basis other than the alternates table,  he can do that using powers in the Executive Council Act and something called the Crown or Royal Prerogative.  It takes a cabinet order but surely the crowd running the place can manage to do that, as they did in 2013,  all without the show of a cabinet shuffle.  It’s really just paper work after all.