Manitoba premier promotes four backbenchers in pre-election cabinet shuffle

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson has made changes to her cabinet.

She is demoting three ministers who recently announced they will not be running in the next election — Cameron Friesen in finance, Reg Helwer in government services, and Alan Lagimodiere in Indigenous reconciliation.

Four backbenchers, all from Winnipeg, are being promoted to cabinet — Obby Khan, Kevin Klein, Janice Morley-Lecomte and James Teitsma.

Some ministers are changing portfolios.

Cliff Cullen moves from economic development to finance, while Eileen Clarke moves from municipal relations to Indigenous reconciliation.

Stefanson said in early January she would shuffle her cabinet, after four ministers announced they would not be running again in the election slated for Oct. 3.

Last week, Friesen announced he was leaving his finance portfolio and would soon resign his legislature seat to try for a seat in the House of Commons.

The shuffle comes as the governing Progressive Conservatives have lagged behind the Opposition New Democrats in opinion polls for two years.

The drop started during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals began to struggle to deal with rising patient counts and surgeries were postponed. In 2021, dozens of intensive care patients were flown to other provinces in a bid to free up beds.

Stefanson has also recently shaken up her staff as well. She changed her chief of staff and replaced her communications director.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023

The Canadian Press