Cabinet Shuffles and Not-for-Profit Water Coolers

Posted on June 08, 2012

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By Dave Gauthier

In case you hadn’t noticed, there were significant changes announced recently regarding the organization and leadership of Saskatchewan Government ministries. Many people don’t care about such things. After all, this is the playoff season, so there is already plenty to talk about around the water cooler. However, there is nothing that creates more buzz in the coffee rooms of not-for-profit organizations that rely on government funding more than a good old cabinet shuffle.

Federal and Provincial cabinets across Canada change regularly for various reasons. Sometimes the reasons are political, such as appointing a minister from a riding where a party’s popularity may be waning. Sometimes the reasons are practical, such as providing valuable experience to newer MPs or MPPs. In some cases, ministers are dismissed for doing a poor job while others are promoted to a higher profile ministry after performing well at a previous post. Other times, assignments are actually based on experience and qualifications that are relevant to a particular post and are driven by a desire to make governments work better (shocking, but true).

Alas, the press releases announcing ministerial re-assignments seldom list the reasons for the changes leaving those outside of affected departments wondering what it all means. Will the bureaucratic machine forge on under new leadership with little day-to-day change? Will there be staff or program cuts? Is the government signaling a bold shift in strategy? These are the things that are pondered over the water cooler in many not-for-profits in the days and weeks following a shuffle. Eventually, all will be revealed, but not before every tip based on something that someone heard from someone on the inside has been thoroughly scrutinized.

I have not yet developed any theories on what the most recent Saskatchewan shuffle means, but it does signal a definitive change in how the provincial government will operate. Unlike previous shuffles that were relatively minor, this one shakes things up completely, with only two ministers retaining their previous posts. Now that they are safely back in power, is the Saskatchewan Party making some bold moves?

The most significant change is the development of a “super-ministry” called the Ministry of the Economy, with Bill Boyd at the helm. This new entity will combine Enterprise Saskatchewan, Innovation Saskatchewan, Tourism Saskatchewan, employment, trade, energy and resources. How the new ministry will operate is still unclear (at least to me), but a consolidation of this sort probably signals an attempt to create more alignment and reduce redundancy between departments that have similar overall goals—in this case to address the growth economy that the Province is currently experiencing. Will that mean job cuts, changes to programs and new Deputy Ministers? Your guess is as good as mine.

Also relevant to the members of AgWest Bio is the appointment of Lyle Stewart, a Regina-area rancher, as Minister of Agriculture and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation. Stewart was formerly the Minister responsible for Enterprise Saskatchewan and Innovation Saskatchewan in 2008 and 2009, and was a former agriculture critic for the Saskatchewan Party.

More information on the cabinet shuffle can be found here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the changes.  

Dr. David Gauthier
is president; CEO of Genome Prairie
  • David Gauthier

    Posted on 10/08/2012

    Don, Thanks for highlighting these important issues. At the time of writing, I was primarily drawing on initial press releases that didn't include much detail. The lack of support for our existing major economic development organizations was indeed an unpleasant surprise. Dave

  • Don Hrytzak

    Posted on 09/06/2012

    Hi Dave: Always enjoyed and respected your opinions and thoughts. I think your article missed one of the most significant outcomes of the shuffle and that is the new cabinet has basically left the two major cities out of the portfolios that deal with economic growth and development. Most significant is the demotion of Rob Norris who was one of the strongest allies of Saskatoon and the Biotech cluster.