Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gary Coons gets back up role in Victoria

“I wouldn't think as leader you ever make everyone happy. I think if you've made everyone happy you haven't done your job.”-- Carole James outlining her thinking on shadow cabinet making after announcing her line up of Legislature critics for the coming session.

Gary Coons may have handily taken care of the Liberals star candidate on the North Coast, but in the words of Shania Twain, for NDP Leader Carole James that apparently "don't impress her much".

James announced her shadow cabinet on Thursday, providing a mix of proven NDP veterans and supposedly rising stars of the left, moving the North Coast MLA to the role of Deputy critic, taking second seat to Newton-Surrey's Harry Bains in the Transportation and Infrastructure critics role.

Last session Mr. Coons had been handling the BC Ferries file on his own, frequently outlining the troubles and confusion that seemed to be frequently coming out of the BC Ferries offices as the coastal fleet sailed into some stormy waters.

With Mr. Bains now the lead critic in Transportation, we suspect that he will be more involved in the day to day overview of matters of BC Ferries and more.

It's a bit surprising to see Mr. Coons relegated to the back up role, he had handled his affairs quite competently during the last session, had a full term behind him and should, one would think have been set for another role with the opposition.

Factor in the fact that he ran a very strong local campaign in the last election, without much in the way of help from the provincial party leader and one wonders if perhaps Ms. James and the NDP inner circle may be taking the North Coast for granted. If so, that's a very dangerous political game that they play at NDP HQ.

Robin Austin, the NDP MLA for Skeena picked up a plum assignment, he will be the Education critic for the NDP, always a high profile post and one which can either make or break ones aspirations for the future.

An interesting choice was that of John Horgan of Juan de Fuca, who was given the Energy, Mines and Resources critics role, one that might have been a good fit for the North Coast MLA, the last time we checked a map, Juan de Fuca wasn't exactly in the heart of mining or resource territory, safely tucked away on the lower end of Vancouver Island.

Mr. Coons, with both mining, forestry and oil exploration and transportation reaching far into his riding, perhaps could have provided a more locally aware interpretation of the governments plans for those sectors.

But as Ms. James puts it, “I wouldn't think as leader you ever make everyone happy."

We won't speak for Mr. Coons, but for the residents of the North Coast who entrusted the NDP with their support and their vote on election day, we suspect she's right when it comes to her interpretation of the reaction from up here to her decisions today.

Victoria Times Colonist-- NDP shuffle shadow cabinet

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