February 17, 2003
(Executive Council)


Premier Grimes announces new Cabinet

Premier Roger Grimes today made major changes to his Cabinet, adding five new members and moving five to new portfolios. Premier Grimes made the moves at the beginning of his third year as Premier, and said the changes will revitalize his government and provide an opportunity for fresh ideas and new enthusiasm. He said the new Cabinet is built on a strong voice from women and aboriginals, sound parliamentary experience, regional representation and clear leadership.

"To those Members of the House of Assembly who will no longer hold ministerial positions, I offer you the thanks and gratitude of myself and the whole government for the energy and dedication you brought to your positions," said Premier Grimes. "Public life is indeed a vocation taken on only by those with great will to improve the province and serve the people in a way unlike any other."

The five new members appointed to the Cabinet today are:

  • Wally Andersen, MHA for Torngat Mountains becomes the new Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs;
  • Yvonne Jones, MHA for Cartwright-L�Anse Au Clair, becomes the new Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women;
  • Robert Mercer, MHA for Humber East, becomes the new Minister of Environment;
  • George Sweeney, MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace, becomes the new Minister of Government Services and Lands; and,
  • James Walsh, MHA for Conception Bay East and Bell Island, becomes the new Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Five existing cabinet ministers will take on new portfolios:

  • Percy Barrett, MHA for Bellevue, becomes the new Minister of Labour; 
  • Judy Foote, MHA for Grand Bank, becomes the new Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development;
  • Walter Noel, MHA for Virginia Waters, becomes the new Minister of Mines and Energy;
  • Gerry Reid, MHA for Twillingate-Fogo, becomes the new Minister of Education; and,
  • Anna Thistle, MHA for Grand Falls-Buchans, becomes the new Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

The following ministers will remain in their current portfolios: Joan Marie Aylward, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board; Rick Woodford, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods; Gerald Smith, Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for the Strategic Social Plan; Ralph Wiseman, Minister of Human Resources and Employment; Tom Lush, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; Kelvin Parsons, Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Oliver Langdon, Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; and Julie Bettney, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Premier Grimes said he has appointed three women to chair three of his most senior committees of Cabinet. Anna Thistle will chair the Social Policy Committee, Judy Foote will chair the Economic Policy Committee and Joan Marie Aylward will continue to chair the Treasury Board. These ministers are also members of the Premier�s Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet, along with the Ministers of Justice, Mines and Energy and Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

The Premier also said that the previous organizational structure which saw MHAs being assigned as Parliamentary Secretaries will no longer be in place. Following on recent public statements, the Premier said he will be looking at reducing the size of the Cabinet, among other parliamentary reforms, following the next election.

Media contact: Carl Cooper, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960

Biographies for New Ministers (alphabetically):

Wally Andersen
Member for Torngat Mountains

A member of the Labrador Inuit Association, Wally Andersen became a member of the House of Assembly in 1996 and remains fervent to his Labrador origins. He was named Liberal Caucus Chair in 1999 and in February 2000 was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Aboriginal Affairs. The following year Minister Andersen was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

Wally Andersen grew up in Makkovik, Labrador. His work as Manager of Operations and Purchasing for the government store took him to Goose Bay. His adult life has been spent in service to the people of Labrador and he was honoured as Citizen of the Year in 1983 for his dedication to the youth of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The pride and passion of his Aboriginal ethnicity is evident in every aspect of his life as he continues to promote the culture of the Inuit people and his work as a Member of the House of Assembly and community leader remains focused on improving the quality of life for all Labrador people.

Minister Andersen and his wife Marie have two daughters.

Yvonne Jones
Member for Cartwright - L�Anse Au Clair

Yvonne Jones was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1996 and holds great pride in her Labrador roots. In February 2001 Ms. Jones was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Community Services and in April 2002 became the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - Labrador Transportation Initiatives.

With her training in journalism, Minister Jones has worked for many community newspapers throughout the province. She has also served as an employment counselor and field worker for the Battle Harbour Development Association with Human Resources Development Canada. Minister Jones represents a district with a tradition of strong fishing activity and, with employment and volunteer experience with the Battle Harbour Development Corporation, Combined Councils of Labrador, Pathways Training Corporation, Labrador Metis Association and literacy groups, Minister Jones has played a significant role in improving the quality of life for not only the people of her district but the people of Labrador.

Ms. Jones lives in Mary�s Harbour with her husband Jim.

Robert Mercer
Member for Humber East

Before becoming a Member of the House of Assembly in 1996, Minister Mercer completed a distinguished career in the forestry sector reflecting his passion and appreciation for the responsible management of the environment.

Since 1996, Mr. Mercer has served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.

A graduate of Memorial University and the University of New Brunswick, Minister Mercer holds Bachelor and Masters of Science degrees. His education has led to a career involving teaching in this province and lecturing at the University of New Brunswick. He also worked as the district forester at Goose Bay with the Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Service and general manager of the Western Newfoundland Forest Model where he oversaw the implementation of the province�s present district forest management system, the drafting of the new Forest Act and the province�s first 20 year Forestry Management Plan.

Through his work in municipal government serving as Mayor of Pasadena, chair of the Great Humber Joint Council and director with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities, he has carved a role for himself as a community leader, always dedicated to the needs of the people of his community and district of Humber East.

Robert Mercer and his wife Judy reside in Pasadena and have three children.

George Sweeney
Member for Carbonear - Harbour Grace

George Sweeney was elected to the House of Assembly in 1999 and since that time has served as Chair of the Social Policy Committee of the House of Assembly, Government Whip and serves on the Public Accounts Committee. In 2001 Minister Sweeney was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development - Information and Advanced Technologies.

As an electrician, Minister Sweeney has shared his expertise and experience with many young people in his role as an electrical instructor and training coordinator with the community college system that extended for 20 years.

Minister Sweeney has dedicated his adult life to public service, realizing his desire to impact on the lives of the people of his native community, Carbonear, with significant contributions to community organizations including the Kinsmen Club, Knights of Columbus, Conception Bay North Folk Arts Council and as chair of the Trinity Conception Regional Health Care Board and a director with the Conception Bay North Community Centre. As a Member of the House of Assembly he has expanded that role to serving the people of his district of Carbonear - Harbour Grace and the province as a whole.

James Walsh
Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island

Since first being elected to the House of Assembly in 1989, Minister Walsh has served the people of his district and the province with diligence and dedication knowing the positive impact public service can have on the lives of people. He has successfully won re-election several times and served as minister in the portfolio of Tourism and Culture. He has held the position of Legislative Advisor to the Minister of Finance, Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Committee of Social Policy and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. In February 2001 Mr. Walsh was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs for Housing.

Mr. Walsh is noted for the remarkable contribution he continues to make to the people in his community not solely as a Member of the House of Assembly but through his longevity as a community leader and community organizer at a community, provincial and national level with such organizations as Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the Better Business Bureau, Canadian Restaurant Association, the Canada Jaycees, the Federal Business Development Bank and Chamber of Commerce.

Minister Walsh is married to the former Barbara Best and together they have four children.

Biographies for Ministers Assigned to New Portfolios (alphabetically):

Percy Barrett
Member for Bellevue

Percy Barrett grew up on Woody Island, Placentia Bay. Upon graduation from high school he attended Clarenville District Vocational School and then Memorial University. He completed his Bachelor of Arts (Education) and accepted the position of Principal of Point Leamington Elementary shortly after his graduation from Memorial in 1970. In 1973, he was appointed Supervisor of Adult Education with the Department of Education. Two years later he became Assistant Director of Adult Education, a position he held until 1987 when he was promoted to Director of Continuing Education with the Avalon Community College. During this time, Mr. Barrett obtained his Masters in Education Administration.

In 1989 Mr. Barrett was first elected to the House of Assembly for the district of Bellevue and has been successfully re-elected in 1993, 1996 and 1999. Upon his first election to the House of Assembly, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of Committees and in 1995, he was appointed Deputy Speaker. In July of 1997, Mr. Barrett accepted Premier Brian Tobin's invitation to be his Parliamentary Assistant. In January of 2000, Percy was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy. On November 6, 2000, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education. On February 13, 2001, Mr. Barrett was appointed Minister of Works, Services and Transportation by Premier Roger Grimes. Today he was appointed Minister of Labour.

Percy's hard work and dedication on behalf of his constituents has aided many projects throughout his district such as road development, water and sewer, community development projects, and employment and grants to various fishers committees.

Percy works to make government less impersonal and more responsive, keeping the needs of his constituents his top priority and is a strong representative for the district of Bellevue and those he serves as Minister.

Judy Foote
Member for Grand Bank

Judy Foote is a Memorial University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education. In 1977 she moved to Sarnia, Ontario to attend Lambton College, graduating with an Honours Diploma in Radio and Television Broadcast Arts.

Prior to her involvement in politics, Ms. Foote worked in television journalism with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's public affairs program "Here & Now", and as the Director of University Relations with Memorial University of Newfoundland. Immediately prior to entering politics she worked in the Premier's Office as the Director of Public Relations, a position she held for seven years.

Ms. Foote was elected as the MHA for the District of Grand Bank on February 22, 1996. On March 14, 1996, Premier Tobin invited her to join his Cabinet as Minister of Development and Rural Renewal. On July 4, 1997 Ms. Foote was appointed Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Ms. Foote was appointed Minister of Education on December 15, 1998. On February 13, 2001 Premier Roger Grimes announced his new Cabinet, which included the reappointment of Ms. Foote as Education Minister. Today she became Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

Ms. Foote is also an active member of the community, and has been dedicated to community service throughout her career. In addition to her volunteer work with several organizations, including the St. John's Association for the Mentally Delayed and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, she served in several capacities over the past years with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

Judy and her husband, Howard, have three children, Carla, Jason and Heidi.

Walter Noel
Member for Virginia Waters

Walter Noel was first appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs for Newfoundland and Labrador in December, 1998. He was appointed Minister of Government Services and Lands on February 13, 2001, and today was appointed Minister of Mines and Energy. He represents the Virginia Waters district in St. John's, and has been an MHA since 1989.

Mr. Noel was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland and operated his own business prior to entering politics. He is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He is the author of A Response to Our Time: A perspective on the evolution and state of modern meaning and organization.

Gerry Reid
Member for Twillingate-Fogo

Gerry Reid was born in Carbonear, one of six children. Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Reid went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education and a Masters Degree in Philosophy from Memorial University. While at Memorial University, he was active in politics and served a term as the president of the Memorial Liberal Association.

After graduating from Memorial, Mr. Reid accepted a teaching position at Coaker Academy on New World Island, Notre Dame Bay. While living there, he became involved in municipal politics and served three years as a councillor in Summerford.

From 1989 to 1996, Mr. Reid served as executive assistant to fisheries ministers Walter Carter and Dr. Bud Hulan. In this capacity, he gained considerable knowledge of the fishing industry and government in general.

In February 1996, Mr. Reid was successful in his bid to become MHA for the newly formed district of Twillingate - Fogo, one of the largest districts in the province. He was re-elected in the February 1999 general election and was named Government Whip. In November 2000, he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. On February 13, 2001, Mr. Reid was appointed as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Today he was appointed Minister of Education.

He currently resides in St. John�s with his wife, Cathy, and their two sons, Matthew and Lucas.

Anna Thistle
Member for Grand Falls-Buchans

Anna Thistle�s springboard into politics began at the municipal level in 1990, when she was elected to the council of the newly-amalgamated Town of Grand Falls-Windsor. She was successfully re-elected in 1993. Economic development was her focus on council and she was responsible for developing and implementing the first Strategic Economic Development Plan for Grand Falls-Windsor, with a regional focus to include the entire Exploits Valley.

Ms. Thistle has a strong background in finance. Her early career began with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, where she held senior level positions at various branches throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1977 she became the first manager of the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union in Grand Falls-Windsor, a position she held until being elected to the provincial House of Assembly in February 1996. Ms. Thistle was elected caucus representative to the Executive Board of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and served as a member of the Public Accounts and Resource committees.

Ms. Thistle has gained a reputation for being a "hands-on" politician, and credits hard work and intense lobbying efforts as the reason for her success in initiating historical legislative changes. She spearheaded legislative provisions for disabled persons to apply for a "Big Game hunting licence," and has championed the cause of CNIB clients in Grand Falls-Windsor to avert an office closure. Ms. Thistle secured first-time funding for autistic children and lobbied for a consumer advocate to investigate gasoline prices, and on behalf of a kidney patient in her district for the establishment of a dialysis unit at the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.

In her capacity as a volunteer, Ms. Thistle is a past director of the South and Central Health Foundation and the Exploits Valley Development Association. She is also past co-ordinator of fund-raising for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and a volunteer for the Exploits Disabled Association. On a provincial level, she is a past-board member of the Provincial Government Advisory Council on the Economy and the Royal Commission on Education Advisory Committee.

In 1998, Ms. Thistle was appointed to Cabinet as President of Treasury Board, and served on the Planning and Priorities Committee. She was successfully re-elected to a second term in 1999. On February 13, 2001, Ms. Thistle was appointed Minister of the province�s new Department of Labour, and today was appointed Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

2003 02 17                                        11:10 a.m.

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