Inuvik-Boot Lake MLA Diane Thom said she was pleasantly surprised when Premier Caroline Cochrane phoned her and told her she was going to be her Deputy Premier.
“She called in all her cabinet and we had a discussion,” said Thom. “I was very pleased that the premier has placed her confidence in me. I would be happy to work in whatever role best serves the NWT, but I’m confident I can make a contribution in this role.”
Cabinet portfolios for the 19th legislative assembly were announced in a press release Nov. Nov. 4. Thom has also been named Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Minister Responsible for People with Disabilities.
With three ministries and pinch-hitting for the Premier, Thom admitted she had a lot of reading to do to get up to speed on her portfolios, but expected her background in the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation gave her a strong perspective on what the people her ministries serve need.
“Over the next coming weeks, I’ll be learning as much as I can about each of my portfolios, but I look forward to bringing my perspective to my ministerial roles,” she said. “When I ran for Inuvik-Boot Lake, I said I wanted to strengthen partnerships and work towards the future of my community.
“With the portfolio of Health and Social Services and as Minister responsible for Status of Women and also People with Disabilities and even just being Deputy Premier, I get to do that at the territorial level, which I’m looking forward to. Before running for office, I worked in intergovernmental relations and community development, so I know what it takes to get things working in our communities.”
Planning to spend the time between now and the next sitting of the legislature, Thom said the next step was establishing a mandate based on the priorities. Once that is ready she would have a better idea where things are headed.
In the meantime, she said she was excited to hit the books and start coming up with ideas on how to move things forward.
“Inuvik is my home and I know what the realities are like for residents and NWT residents who do not live in the bigger communities. I can bring that awareness to my role as minister and I’m looking forward to some positive changes within the territory.
“It’s very new and an important responsibility. I’m looking forward to working with the Premier and my colleagues and on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.”