MLAs Mary Polak and  Rich Coleman are sworn in in front of Lieutenant Governor Steven Point in Victoria on Monday.

MLAs Mary Polak and Rich Coleman are sworn in in front of Lieutenant Governor Steven Point in Victoria on Monday.

Langley MLAs make the cut

Coleman, Polak keep jobs in smaller cabinet

Langley MLAs Rich Coleman and Mary Polak will remain government ministers but they will have different duties in new premier Christy Clark’s scaled-down cabinet.

Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman takes over energy and mines, taking with him the responsibility for housing that he has carried through several ministries.

Coleman was Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, a post which included authority over gaming policy and enforcement.

His former portfolio is now the responsibility of Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, who was transportation minister.

He will remain government House leader, a job he originally took on as an interim post.

Coleman has also moved up within the government planning and priorities committee to become vice-chair of the powerful body that decides the direction of government.

He figures the workload for his new responsibilities will be about the same as his old job.

“It will be different, but it will be fun,” Coleman told The Times.

He’s “glad” he’s keeping housing because he want to oversee completion of multiple projects to provide affordable housing for low-income people and seniors.

“It’s really a case of continuing the file,” Coleman said.

And he added he’s looking forward to guiding the development of energy and mines projects that represent the largest single source of government revenue including the Site C dam and multibillion dollar pipelines.

He plans to pay particular attention to BC Hydro.

“We do need to get Hydro more focused on rate payers,” Coleman said.

“I do want to know what they’re doing and why.”

Langley MLA Mary Polak moves from children and family development to Aboriginal relations.

Her old job goes to Vancouver-False Creek MLA Mary McNeil.

While the Aboriginal office may be smaller, Polak says that doesn’t make it any less significant.

She expects her new job will probably require less time answering questions in the legislature and more time traveling and dealing with her federal counterparts.

With 54 per cent of children in government care coming from Aboriginal backgrounds, Polak said she already has some experience dealing with First Nations issues.

“For me it, feels very natural,” Polak said.

She says by addressing issues that are not specifically treaty-related during negotiations, the province hopes to settle more lands claims.

Polak points to deals like the Haida accord where attention was paid to issues like services for families and support for vulnerable children.

“I do think that will improve our  opportunities to come to successful agreements with First Nations,” she said.

“The goal is to get to a place where you’re dealing with equals,” Polak added.

The new cabinet is made up of 17 ministers plus the premier, reduced from the previous total of 24.

Clark unveiled the smaller cabinet at swearing-in ceremonies at Government House on Monday afternoon.

— with files from Tom Fletcher