News release

John Hamm Names New Cabinet

Premier-designate John Hamm today announced the 10 MLAs who will join him in cabinet. The 11-member Executive Council, the smallest in Nova Scotia since 1971, will be sworn in and assume office Monday.

"During the election, we made a commitment to a smaller, more efficient cabinet that will focus on implementing the program we offered and Nova Scotians endorsed. Today, we are meeting that commitment," said Dr. Hamm.

Cabinet responsibilities have been aligned to balance the need for financial discipline with the incoming government's commitment to health, education and enhancing economic opportunities in all parts of the province.

"This cabinet is designed to give that direction, that sense of purpose to government," said Dr. Hamm. "Nova Scotians gave us a mandate, and we will be accountable to Nova Scotians for fulfilling that mandate."

In addition to its size -- reduced from 14 in the previous government -- the new Executive Council has some notable changes:

  • One senior minister has been assigned responsibility for the key resource departments, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Marketing, and Fisheries and Aquaculture.
  • The Department of Tourism and Culture is created to work with the industry and promote growth -- again, in keeping with a commitment made during the recent election. The incoming government sees tremendous potential for growth and job creation across the province in tourism.
  • One minister has been assigned to the departments of Economic Development and Transportation and Public Works, in recognition of the importance of transportation infrastructure to the provincial economy.

In selecting his cabinet, Dr. Hamm said he sought representation from across the province, a balance of new and experienced MLAs, and a diverse mix of personal experience and perspectives.

"The process was difficult because of the vast array of talent and experience in our new caucus," the premier-designate said.

As Premier, Dr. Hamm will also serve as President of the Executive Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The Minister of Health is Jamie Muir. Mr. Muir was elected to represent Truro-Bible Hill in 1998 and re-elected in 1999. He has several academic degrees including a bachelor of arts and bachelor of education from Dalhousie University, as well as a master of education and a PhD in education from the University of Virginia. He has lectured in several Atlantic Canadian universities and was principal of the Nova Scotia Teachers College.

One minister will co-ordinate three key economic portfolios. Gordon Balser is Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. Mr. Balser, MLA for Digby-Annapolis since March 1998, is a former teaching principal and acting superintendent of schools. He also assumes responsibility for Sydney Steel.

The most experienced member of cabinet is Hants West MLA Ron Russell, who has been appointed Minister of Labour and Minister of the Environment. He will also chair the Priorities and Planning Committee of cabinet, is responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board and is the Government House Leader. First elected in 1978, and re-elected in each of six successive elections, Mr. Russell previously held several cabinet posts, including health, consumer affairs, management board, solicitor general and labour. He has been Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature on three separate occasions, and was the first MLA elected Speaker by his legislative peers.

The Minister of Finance is Neil LeBlanc. He is also responsible for the Department of Business and Consumer Services. Mr. LeBlanc has cabinet experience and a business background. He has

represented the people of Argyle for 10 years in total, and previously served as solicitor general, minister of supply and services and minister responsible for youth. In the new cabinet, Mr. LeBlanc also serves as Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, and has been given responsibility for Nova Scotia Resources Ltd.

Almost 20 years as a practising lawyer equips Michael Baker for his responsibilities as Minister of Justice. In addition to his law practice and extensive community activities, Mr. Baker is a former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and former member of the board of directors of Marine Atlantic. He was elected to the Nova Scotia legislature in 1998 as MLA for Lunenburg and re-elected this year. Mr. Baker is also appointed Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

The Minister of Education is Jane Purves, who was also named Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat, Minister of Sport and Recreation and Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. A graduate of Dalhousie University, Ms. Purves is an experienced broadcast and print journalist, most recently serving as managing editor of the Chronicle-Herald and Mail-Star. She was elected to the Nova Scotia legislature from Halifax Citadel for the first time July 27.

Peter Christie, member for Bedford-Fall River, has been appointed Minister of Community Services and Minister responsible for the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. Mr. Christie recently retired as chief financial officer of H.H. Marshall Ltd., is a former mayor of Bedford and is an active community volunteer. Mr. Christie was elected to the Nova Scotia legislature for the first time last month.

Cumberland North MLA Ernie Fage will have responsibility for the vital resource sectors as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. A farmer himself, Mr. Fage was first elected to the legislature in a byelection in 1997 and re-elected in 1998 and 1999.

Rodney MacDonald is responsible for the newly established Department of Tourism and Culture. The department reinforces the government's recognition of the economic potential of the tourism and cultural sectors. The newly elected member for Inverness is a 27-year-old teacher at Mabou Consolidated School and a professional musician. He also assumes responsibility for the Youth Secretariat.

Serving as Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs is John Chataway, who has 14 years' experience as municipal councillor for Chester. He was also named Minister of Human Resources. Mr. Chataway has been a teacher for 29 years and was elected member from Chester-St. Margarets for the first time July 27.

Members of the Executive Council will be sworn into government during a ceremony at Province House on Monday, Aug. 16. The public is invited to attend.

The new government's first cabinet meeting is Thursday, Aug. 19.



Rob Batherson
Premier-Designate's Office/Government Caucus Office 902-424-2731

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photographs and brief biographies of the members of the new Executive Council are available on Communications Nova Scotia website, . Media unable to download the pictures and would like prints mailed to them are asked to contact Ross McLaren at 902-424-1720.

Media may also contact Communications Nova Scotia at 902-424-4492 or e-mail for the biographies.

arc                      August 13, 1999             12:52 p.m.