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Murphy excited for rural development on P.E.I.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Lieutenant Governor Frank Lewis look on as Pat Murphy signs an oath of office as Prince Edward Island Minister of Rural and Regional Development.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Lieutenant Governor Frank Lewis look on as Pat Murphy signs an oath of office as Prince Edward Island Minister of Rural and Regional Development.

ALBERTON -- A vocal critic of his government’s school review process, Alberton-Roseville MLA Pat Murphy was expressing a more reassuring tone Thursday, the day after he was named to the provincial cabinet.

Murphy pointed out recommendations currently being considered, including the possible closure of five schools are just that: recommendations.
“The three-member board could come back with recommendations that no schools are closing,” he pointed out.

He insists his position hasn’t changed. “I’m still the member for Alberton-Roseville, where two of those schools are in, and I’m in a lot better place today,” he said of his ability to argue for keeping the schools open, if the current recommendations make it to the cabinet table.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced a cabinet change Wednesday which sees Richard Brown ushered out and replaced at the cabinet table by Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant, and Murphy taking the reigns of a new Department of Rural and Regional Development.

“I think it says a lot that our government is taking rural Prince Edward Island concerns seriously, and I think it’s a great way to show it, by dedicating a whole department to rural and regional development,” said the new minister. He said the new department will share over-lapping responsibilities with other departments, including Gallant’s. The department will also utilize some existing resources, including the Rural Action Centres, Murphy explained.

The cabinet appointment was nearly 10 years in the making.

Asked if he wondered if a cabinet position would ever happen, the Alberton resident responded, “I’ve always been there to look after my constituency and, whatever happens, happens, so I’m hoping I am going to be able to do more for rural Prince Edward Island in this position.”

Murphy had advised the United Home and Schools of West Prince group via social media after the Westisle Family of Schools meeting scheduled for Feb. 9 got postponed that he would be out of province and unable to attend the meeting on the rescheduled date, February 21. Even with his appointment to cabinet, Murphy said his schedule has not changed and he will still be out-of-province on Tuesday.

Murphy expressed appreciation for all the congratulatory messages he’s received since Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony and said he is excited for rural P.E.I. “It’s going to be great to head a brand new department that’s dedicated to rural Prince Edward Island.”

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