POLITICS

Nova Scotia Liberals have plenty of veterans to chose from for top posts

10/08/2013 08:50 EDT | Updated 12/08/2013 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - When it comes time to select a cabinet, Liberal premier-designate Stephen McNeil will have a good mix of seasoned veterans and high-profile newcomers to choose from.

Diana Whalen, the party's finance critic, is widely expected to play a prominent part. First elected in 2003, the former managerial consultant with an MBA also served as a municipal councillor in Halifax before turning to provincial politics.

The health-care portfolio could be handed to Leo Glavine. The party's longtime health critic is a former high school administrator from the Annapolis Valley who was first elected in 2003.

Guiding the Health Department will be a big challenge because Liberals have promised to shrink the number of health authorities from 10 to two.

On the education front, McNeil could turn to Karen Casey, a former Conservative education minister and health-care administrator who crossed the floor to join the Liberals in 2011.

Other prominent Liberal veterans to watch are former caucus whip Kelly Regan, a former journalist with CTV, and Dartmouth-area MLA Andrew Younger, who made a name for himself as a feisty Opposition critic with a special talent for getting under the skin of NDP cabinet ministers.

As well, the Liberal party's former house leader and justice critic, Michel Samson, is expected to land a cabinet post. The bilingual lawyer with Acadian roots in Cape Breton was first elected in 1998 and later served as one of the province's youngest cabinet ministers, holding the environment portfolio.

As for the new faces in the Liberal caucus, Halifax entrepreneur Joachim Stroink ­— owner of an outdoor adventure store — could play a leading role as McNeil visited his riding throughout the campaign.

In Antigonish, former university professor Randy Delorey — another newcomer — has an impressive resume that includes an MBA and experience as a lecturer in the Faculty of Management at St. Francis Xavier University.

The Liberal party has been on the opposition benches for 14 years.

As for the New Democrats, Premier Darrell Dexter lost his Halifax-area seat by a slim margin.

Six of his 11 cabinet ministers were also defeated, including Justice Minister Ross Landry, Agriculture Minister John MacDonell, Energy Minister Charlie Parker, Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra, Education Minister Ramona Jennex and Transport Minister Maurice Smith.

Former NDP cabinet minister Percy Paris, who was charged with assault after an altercation with a Liberal member of the house, was defeated in his Halifax-area riding.

The NDP's fisheries minister, Sterling Belliveau, won the riding of Shelburne, which was redrawn. The NDP government allowed Belliveau to vote against the final draft of the electoral map in the legislature.

The other NDP cabinet ministers who held their seats were Health and Wellness Minister Dave Wilson, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald and Labour Minister Frank Corbett.