Penner gains cabinet post

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner was returned as Attorney-General and Chilliwack MLA John Les was named parliamentary secretary to the premier in the new cabinet announced by Premier Christy Clark Monday.

“Obviously, I’m pleased to have a chance to continue working to improve our legal system,” Penner told The Progress in a telephone interview after the announcement.

“We need to address the increasing costs of the legal system, and the growing complexity of legal cases,” he said.

Penner blamed computerization for the growing amount of court documents that are clogging up the system, but he added that computers may also be the solution, if a way can be found to ensure “authenticity” of electronic documents.

Penner will also sit on a treasury board committee working with the finance minister and on a committee that reviews legislation proposed by government ministries.

Les could not be reached for comment.

Clark said the smaller cabinet will focus on “families first,” a major theme of her leadership campaign, and on creating jobs and “changing the way British Columbians engage their government.”

The new cabinet is made up of 17 ministers, plus the premier, a reduction from the previous 24-minister cabinet.

A new ministry called Jobs, Tourism and Innovation focuses job creation under one roof. Three new cabinet committees reflect priorities of the new government: the Committee on Families First; the Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth; and the Committee on Open Government and Engagement.

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