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NWT Premier reshuffles cabinet, three ministers move

Caroline Cochrane, the minister of municipal and community affairs, at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games
Caroline Cochrane, the minister of municipal and community affairs, at the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Three ministers took on new portfolios as the Premier of the Northwest Territories significantly shook up his cabinet on Wednesday.

Caroline Cochrane and Alfred Moses effectively swapped places, while Robert C McLeod became the minister responsible for the territory’s power corporation.

In a prepared statement issued on Wednesday morning, Premier Bob McLeod said: “As we enter the last full fiscal year of the 18th Legislative Assembly, our government remains committed to fulfilling the commitments we set out at the beginning of our term.

“The changes being made today will help ensure that our cabinet team is well-positioned to achieve success and deliver on our priorities in the remaining months.”



Beyond McLeod’s statement, there was no immediate explanation for the decision to reassign ministers.

Cochrane had only been handed her role as minister of municipal and community affairs in September 2016, in a separate cabinet shuffle. Alfred Moses now inherits that role, while Cochrane assumes his previous post at the department of education, culture and employment (ECE).

Ministerial responsibility for housing, homelessness, and the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission also transfers from Cochrane to Moses. Cochrane retains the title of minister responsible for the status of women.

“This is great news,” Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green said on Twitter. “Caroline Cochrane has been a strong housing minister. Now let’s hope she can provide that same level of ‘thinking outside of the box’ to ECE.”



James O’Connor, editor of the Yellowknifer newspaper, tweeted: “Was wondering when Alfred Moses would be booted out of education – he fumbled junior kindergarten and Aurora College files badly.”

5pm handover

Robert C McLeod’s new role of minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation comes to him from Louis Sebert.

Sebert’s titles related to lands, justice and public transparency, and McLeod’s roles of minister of finance and environment and natural resources, are unchanged.

Justice minister Sebert was the only cabinet member to lose a confidence vote from regular members of the legislature in October last year. He eventually kept his place in cabinet by 11 votes to seven.

Wednesday’s news release, confirming details first reported by Cabin Radio, also announced Catherine MacQuarrie as the new deputy secretary for federal engagement, without elaborating on the nature of that role. MacQuarrie, who is Métis, will work from Ottawa.

The ministers’ new positions come into effect as of 5pm on Wednesday.

The premier and cabinet are selected by members of the legislature, but the premier holds responsibility for assigning portfolios to ministers once they are elevated to cabinet.