It’s quite a jump from Education to Crown Investments, but it’s one Donna Harpauer is making.
The MLA for Humboldt was shuffled from her role as Minister of Education to Minister of Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) when Premier Brad Wall announced a re-organization of his cabinet and government ministries last week.
“We want to ensure the economic growth in Saskatchewan continues and that our government is meeting both the challenges and the opportunities of a growing province,” Wall said of the reason for the shuffle.
“I’m excited about it,” Harpauer told the Journal on May 28.
“It’s going to be kind of a revisit, as I had the CIC in my critic responsibilities,” she added.
However, SGI and SLGA are totally new to her.
Her new post will give her a different perspective on the government, she believes.
In her previous two posts as Minister of Social Services and Minister of Education, she was on the programming and humanities side, allocating government funding.
“Now I’m on the side where we’re making money. I’m excited about the new perspective.”
The shuffle was a large one, Harpauer agreed. Seven former ministers were asked to take a break from cabinet, and three others were brought back in — Lyle Stewart, Christine Tell and Nancy Heppner.
“We have a huge caucus,” she said of the Sask Party. “The premier has a lot of great talent to choose from (so) sitting out does not mean you will never return.”
Getting new people into cabinet, she feels, makes for a very strong government, as it gives other members of caucus a taste of what happens, and means there is less of a divide between those in cabinet and those without.
And it takes away some of the stigma, she said, of leaving cabinet.
Should she want to leave cabinet for a while, she added, she would feel confident in asking that of the premier.
As for the shuffling, though, cabinet gets no real heads-up in advance of the changes.
“I was told Thursday to be sworn in on Friday,” she said. “There’s very, very little notice in advance of where you will be moved to.”
Sometimes, she said, she would like to know Wall’s line of thinking when he shuffles cabinet.
“It’d be interesting — what he was thinking,” she admitted.
In her case, though it may look it, her new portfolio is “not totally foreign territory.”
Harpauer has served on the treasury board, and “I do enjoy the numbers,” she said.
Wall is aware of that, she noted, and that she enjoys spreadsheets.
“Working around the cabinet table, he definitely picks up on where people have interest.”
Harpauer says that CIC has a great team in place, headed by president and CEO Dick Carter, who was in the Ministry of Finance when she was on the treasury board.
“We have a good rapport already, which will be a huge advantage,” she stated.
Will she miss the Education portfolio?
“Of course I will,” she admitted.
Taking over for Harpauer as the new Minister of Education is Russ Marchak, a former school board member and teacher. Harpauer consulted him on a number of things while she was Minister of Education, and he was involved in consultations on the new math curriculum as well.
“He’s very in tune and aware of what is happening in education,” she said. “We’ve already worked well together. I think he’ll do a great job.”
The first meeting of Wall’s new cabinet was set for May 30.
“It will be fun,” Harpauer laughed.
The biggest change of the shuffle was the creation of a new Ministry of the Economy, which brings together a number of economic functions of the government, including Enterprise Saskatchewan, Innovation Saskatchewan, Tourism Saskatchewan, employment, immigration, trade, energy and resources.
June Draude remains Minister of Social Services and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, one of just two ministers to retain their current responsibilities. The other is Ken Krawetz, who remains Deputy Premier and Finance Minister.
The number of ministers remains at 18, including the premier.