It’s now official — Darrell Dexter is the first NDP premier of Nova Scotia.
Dexter was sworn in as the province’s 27th premier, along with his new cabinet, at a packed ceremony Friday night at the Cunard Centre in Halifax.
“It’s exhilarating,” Dexter said. “And it’s a little bit of an exhausting process as well.”
The 1,200 seats available for the ceremony quickly filled, leaving a few hundred people to scrounge for standing room.
Dexter’s cabinet consists of only himself and 11 others, but was carefully balanced. Half of the cabinet members are from ridings in the Halifax Regional Municipality and four of the 12 are women.
As was widely expected, Halifax Fairview MLA Graham Steele was named finance minister, handling arguably the most important portfolio in the new government. Steele will have the job of balancing the 2010 budget as promised in the election campaign.
“Some people would say being named minister of finance in the midst of a recession is not a great prize,” Steele said. “But I am completely energized and excited by the challenges ahead of us.”
Other veterans to get prominent posts include Halifax Needham’s Maureen MacDonald in health, Marilyn More of Dartmouth South-Portland Valley in education, Hants East MLA John MacDonnell in agriculture and natural resources and Timberlea-Prospect representative Bill Estabrooks for transporatino.
Three newcomers managed to snag cabinet appointments. Pictou Centre MLA Ross Landry was a first-time candidate just weeks ago and is now justice minister. He served as a local police and RCMP officer for many years.
Former teacher Ramona Jennex knocked off Agriculture Minister Mark Parent and was named minister of Service Nova Scotia and municipal relations. Denise Peterson-Rafuse defeated Health Minister Judy Streatch in Chester-St. Margaret’s and will take over Streatch’s old post along with community services.