Premier Caroline Cochrane has announced which cabinet members will lead which departments in her new Northwest Territories government.
Caroline Wawzonek, a lawyer, will be the territory’s new finance minister alongside her expected role as justice minister. Industry, tourism, and investment will be led by Katrina Nokleby, who will also oversee infrastructure.
Shane Thompson is the new environment and lands minister while RJ Simpson takes over as education minister.
Cochrane named Diane Thom the new health minister. Thom will also serve as deputy premier.
Paulie Chinna is the housing minister, alongside responsibility for municipal and community affairs.
The appointments take effect at 5pm on Friday, November 8.
In a statement, Cochrane said October’s NWT election had demonstrated “an appetite for change.” She said her cabinet was the first in NWT and Canadian history to feature predominantly female ministers.
“We are all looking forward to working together to deliver the change that NWT voters demanded,” said Cochrane, “with a progressive and balanced agenda on behalf of all residents of this territory.”
The premier was expected to take questions from reporters later on Tuesday.
Full list of roles
Cochrane is the only member of her seven-person cabinet – five women and two men – to have any past experience as a minister. She held the education portfolio, among others, under former premier Bob McLeod.
Thompson and Simpson each bring four years’ experience as regular MLAs to their posts. The remaining four cabinet members are first-time territorial politicians.
Cochrane and six other cabinet members were selected by MLAs in secret ballots last month, but only on Tuesday were those cabinet members each formally appointed to lead NWT government departments.
Cabinet members were informed of their new roles earlier on Tuesday morning, Cabin Radio understands. They had each been given an opportunity to write to the premier outlining their skills, experience, and portfolios of choice.
Ministers and portfolios:
- Paulie Chinna
Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Minister of Housing, Minister Responsible for Homelessness
- Caroline Cochrane
Premier, Minister of Executive and Indigenous Affairs
- Katrina Nokleby
Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Minister Responsible for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission
- RJ Simpson
Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Minister Responsible for the Public Utilities Board, Government House Leader
- Diane Thom
Deputy Premier, Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities
- Shane Thompson
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Minister of Lands, Minister Responsible for Youth, Minister Responsible for Seniors
- Caroline Wawzonek
Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice
The list of ministers and their departments was made public in a news release on Tuesday morning.
Ministers now have a month to familiarize themselves with their departments before MLAs return to the legislature for three days of session from December 10-12.
That short session will represent the Cochrane government’s first opportunity to set out in more detail some of its plans for the next four years, and the first chance for regular MLAs to raise issues during public question-and-answer sessions.
A much more extensive session will take place from February to April 2020.