FREDERICTON - Brian Gallant is promising a smaller cabinet when he is sworn-in as New Brunswick's 33rd premier on Tuesday, adding to the difficulty of choosing a front bench that is representative of the province.
Premier David Alward leaves office with a Progressive Conservative cabinet of 18 members including himself, but Gallant has repeatedly said that was too many.
"There will be a significant amount of reductions when it comes to cabinet ministers but the exact number remains to be seen," Gallant said recently.
The Liberal premier-designate has held a number of meetings with civil servants, looking for ways to combine departments.
The Liberals won last month's provincial election with 27 seats, compared to 21 for the Progressive Conservatives and one for the Greens.
Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton said it's always difficult choosing a cabinet that rewards both returning members of the legislature and talented newcomers.
"Other representational issues have to do with making sure that different parts of the province, different language communities, and women are adequately represented in the cabinet," he said.
Gallant has only four women to choose from, and roughly half his caucus has previous experience in the legislature.
"The experienced MLAs, those who were cabinet ministers in the past, have the inside track from the senior positions in cabinet — finance, health — the big ticket departments," Bateman said.
But Gallant said that won't necessarily be the case.
"Obviously they have experience to bring to the table and that's certainly one of the elements that makes their candidacies for cabinet very attractive, but at the same time everybody starts with a clean slate," he said.
Aside from Gallant, there is just one other lawyer in the caucus, making Serge Rousselle a good bet for solicitor general.
Gallant has repeatedly stated that jobs and innovation will be his government's top priorities.
Last week he announced he will chair a jobs board to look for ways to create employment.
One of the top ways Gallant has proposed to create jobs is by spending $900 million over the next six years on infrastructure projects.
Gallant said no decision has been made on when his government will table its first capital budget to outline where and how the initial funding will be spent. The capital budget is usually released before the end of the year to provide time for tenders to be issued in advance of the next construction and paving seasons.
Bateman said it may take time for the new government to get on its feet and be ready to move on its promises.
"Some of the campaign rhetoric has raised expectations that he may not be able to meet in the short term," Bateman said.
Bateman said the public is watching to see how quickly Gallant will act on campaign promises to impose a moratorium on fracking for shale gas, and to remove barriers to women seeking abortion in the province.
Gallant said he first wants to consult with other provinces and U.S. states that have experience with moratoriums.
Bateman said he doesn't expect a moratorium to last every long before Gallant is under pressure to either approve or ban fracking altogether.
"He's going to feel pressure both ways and he won't be able to sit on that one forever, that's for sure," Bateman said.
On abortion, Gallant hasn't said when he'll act.
During the campaign he was pressed to say if he would repeal a portion of Section 84-20 of the Medical Services Payment Act. That section requires that an abortion be done at certain hospitals and only after two doctors have certified that the procedure is medically necessary.
The issue entered the spotlight when the Morgentaler clinic closed in Fredericton in July.
Gallant has said section 84-20 is a barrier for women seeking abortion, but there may also be other barriers and he wants to study the issue to make sure all of them are removed.