Brian Pallister, Manitoba's New Tory Premier, Names 12 To Cabinet

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WINNIPEG — Brian Pallister has been sworn in as Manitoba premier.

The Progressive Conservative leader took the oath in front of the 12 ministers who will make up his cabinet — eight men and four women.

"Our team's plan for a better Manitoba with lower taxes, better services and a stronger economy was overwhelmingly endorsed by Manitobans," Pallister said in a release issued as he was being sworn in Tuesday.

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Brian Pallister speaks with media outside the legislature in Winnipeg, Wednesday, April 20, 2016 the day after his party defeated the NDP with a majority. (Photo: John Woods/CP)

"We know the job ahead of us will not be easy, but this is the right team to get Manitoba back on track."

Cameron Friesen, member of the legislature for Morden-Winkler, has been appointed finance minister. A fiscal update presented in March revealed the provincial deficit last year had more than doubled to $773 million and Pallister has pledged to roll back the previous NDP government's one percentage point provincial sales tax increase.

Other experienced Tory members were rewarded with high-profile cabinet posts.

Former justice critic Kelvin Goertzen is the health minister, while Heather Stefanson is justice minister and deputy premier. Ian Wishart is the new minister of education.

Ron Schuler is the minister of Crown services, Ralph Eichler takes on the agriculture portfolio, Cliff Cullen becomes minister of growth, enterprise and trade and Blaine Pedersen has been appointed minister of infrastructure.

Former Winnipeg city councillor Scott Fielding has been named minister of families.

Ex-Tory minister left out

Manitoba has more than 10,000 kids in the care of Child and Family Services. The vast majority are indigenous. The province has one of the highest apprehension rates in Canada and seizes an average of one newborn baby a day. The cost of the department has ballooned to almost $500 million and routinely is criticized for apprehending too many children or repeatedly returning others to abusive guardians.

Pallister and the Progressive Conservatives took 40 of the legislature's 57 seats in the election April 19.

Manitoba premiers have traditionally tried to have one minister from Brandon — the province's second-largest city. But neither Reg Helwer, first elected in 2011, nor newcomer Len Isleifson, received a post.

Steven Fletcher, a former member of Parliament for the federal Conservatives, was also left out.

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