All women all the time, or what to do about Howard?


A canny Liberal friend of contrarian suggests that Premier-about-to-be Darrell Dexter would be wise to follow Jean Charest’s example and select a gender-balanced cabinet. That would mean five or six of the 11 ministers Dexter will name tomorrow would be women.

A key advantage of this approach is that it would disarm the party’s already isolated left wing, giving Dexter more leeway to keep Howard Epstein out of harm’s way—placing him, say, in the speaker’s chair.

Do the math: Dexter promised a cabinet of no more than 12 members. He will take one seat himself. Cape Breton must get another, also Pictou, Kings, and perhaps Guysborough. Add five or six women, and it doesn’t leave much room for white males from Metro. The left would be hard put to complain about a cabinet that raised the participation of women to an historic high.

The worry about Epstein is that, given a real portfolio, he might do or say things that play into public fears about New Democrats as  radicals in lambs’ clothing. This fear may be overblown—Epstein has served quietly recent years—but he remains isolated from Dexter’s inner circle.