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Newfoundland and Labrador minority Liberal government swears in new cabinet
Published Thursday, May 30, 2019 3:25PM ADT Last Updated Friday, May 31, 2019 7:45AM ADT
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball's Liberal government was re-elected earlier this month with a minority government, winning 20 of a possible 40 seats.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball was officially sworn in again Thursday, with a slate of familiar faces stepping back into the cabinet roles they held before last month's provincial election.
Ball's Liberal government was re-elected May 16 with a minority government, winning 20 of a possible 40 seats. Still to come, though, is a judicial recount in Labrador West, where NDP newcomer Jordan Brown unseated Liberal Graham Letto by a five-vote margin.
Former backbencher Brian Warr is the sole new face in cabinet, sworn in as minister of education and early childhood development, replacing former minister Al Hawkins, who was not re-elected.
Cabinet member Lisa Dempster is taking on Letto's former municipal affairs and environment file, in addition to her previous role as minister of children, seniors and social development.
The premier told reporters that Letto will return to his former file if the judicial recount currently set for mid-June goes in his favour. If Letto wins that recount, the Liberals will hold a majority.
In the meantime, the premier said the House of Assembly will reopen sometime around June 10, with a throne speech and election of a Speaker.
Also on the agenda is the provincial budget, which was tabled in April but not passed before Ball dropped the election writ.
Ball defended his decision to leave his old cabinet largely intact, touting the ministers' "experience, consistency and stability."
"It's important to have that level of experience when you're debating that budget," Ball said. "We have a very experienced, stable cabinet."
Opposition politicians had criticized the Liberals for an overly optimistic budget that resisted any tax hikes, with critics calling it more of an election platform than a realistic budget.
Ball said the budget will be unchanged, and a vote on it will come "quite early."
With one seat unfilled while the recount is pending, the Liberals will technically hold a majority, but Ball denied that his intention is to pass the budget before the recount is over.
"There's nothing strategic about this. I would prefer if the judicial recount was done today and over and we had that decision made, that would be my preference, but it's not," he said.
Standing with his diminished cabinet, Ball said he's looking forward to working in greater collaboration in the House of Assembly should the minority government hold.
"I'm looking forward to it. I see significant opportunities, don't see this as a challenge at all," Ball said.