The price of choosing a small cabinet for the NDP was leaving out some senior party members.
One notable name left off that list was Halifax Chebucto MLA Howard Epstein. Epstein was first elected in 1998, and as a former head of the Ecology Action Centre, many speculated he would be named environment minister.
“I regret very much not being in the cabinet. It seems to be the central place to be in the new government,” Epstein said when reached by phone yesterday.
“But I’m much sorrier that my point of view is not going to be part of cabinet deliberations.”
The only other member first elected in 1998 not to be given a portfolio was Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker. Parker lost in 1999 but was elected again in 2003, 2006 and 20009.
Premier Darrell Dexter said he wanted to keep cabinet small at the beginning so it could “be an agile and nimble cabinet, that we are able to move quickly on matters.
“These were very difficult choices,” Dexter said.
“There were many permutations and combinations. This is the one that I believe will serve the best interests of the people of the province.”
Because there are fewer ministers – Rodney MacDonald had an 18-member cabinet – some of those selected will have very heavy workloads.
The environment portfolio went to Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau, who was also named fisheries minister. He must now balance two portfolios that could often clash.
Dexter said his cabinet could eventually expand, though there is no timetable for that. Epstein expects that to be the case.
“I think the election promise was only it would start out as a 12-member cabinet. I don’t think that was meant to be a permanent solution,” Epstein said. “Cabinet could certainly have been structured differently, but there it is.”