Friday, December 29, 2006

Advice to the Premier - Bring back Marshall

At the Premier's office, a senior staffer takes the chance and offers the advice he's paid to provide:

Far be it for me to provide advice to you, Premier Williams, but now that you have another vacancy in your cabinet, it's time to look at your options.

The resignation of Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan provides an opportunity to shuffle some of the existing ministers but it's also important to avoid some pitfalls

There are three things to consider: the need to maintain confidence in the finances of the province, to build an election cabinet and to show the province that the government is not crumbling under pressure and remains strong.

You want to put to bed any questions which might be raised by the loss of two former party leaders, Ed Byrne and Sullivan, and critical members of the cabinet team in as many months.

I know that any government which you lead is a strong one but, from the outside, it's important to maintain the concept of the Danny Team. It's not only good for you in showing that you are a leader of men and women but it also ensures that you will have a government to lead.

After all, you need to win a majority of districts to have a majority government and one way to do that is to show the people that the individual MHA's they are voting for are important to the team. So a strong government must become apparent through the appointment of a strong cabinet.

With an election not quite a year away, you can take this opportunity to shore up support in areas where government is perceived to be soft. The other side is that, quite frankly, you don't have a whole lot of material to choose from and to promote to Ministerial status.

You are fortunate in that a lot of the existing cabinet you can leave in place since, at a minimum, they seem to be sufficiently competent not to be shooting themselves in the foot on a regular basis. There are some exceptions, however.

Minister Dunderdale and Minister Ottenheimer should be swapped. Natural Resources needs the calm and level head which Ottenheimer can provide and Dunderdale needs the irrelevance and ignominy that IGA provides.

That leaves the problem of what to do with Finance. The best option that has the most win in the most ways is to bring Elizabeth Marshall back in from the cold. She has been more than loyal in taking her exile with good humor and sans criticism. She can immediately bring credibility to this critical job in a way no other MHA can.

It also makes you, Premier, look more magnanimous than usual in bringing her back into a responsible position.

Elizabeth Marshall in Finance is a win for government, the province and for you.

But in the end, it's your choice, of course.
The staffer is last seen booting it out the office door at top speed, ducking the fire breathed at his direction by a glowering Premier.

Time will tell if the advice is heeded.

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