WEST Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan has joined cabinet after a decade as a Liberal backbencher.
Shouts of "Yay, Ralphie!" went up among veteran ministers watching the ceremony as Sultan was announced.
Sultan, 79, was appointed as Minister of State for Seniors Wednesday morning as B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced a cabinet shuffle.
Sultan will also sit on several cabinet committees including one on "open government and engagement," another on "families first" as well as the legislative review committee.
It's the first time the veteran West Vancouver MLA has been appointed to the inner circle, despite an impressive academic record as a professor at Harvard and a private sector career in finance.
"It's an appointment that's long overdue," said political commentator and former North Vancouver NDP MLA David Schreck. "He deserves congratulations at finally being appointed to cabinet."
Former premier Gordon Campbell repeatedly passed over Sultan as cabinet material.
Schreck said the fact Sultan's seat in West Vancouver is one of the safest for the Liberals probably didn't help.
Cabinet posts are often handed out as a way to raise an MLA's profile and are sometimes considered "wasted" on someone who'd likely get elected anyway, said Schreck.
In past elections, Sultan has consistently topped the polls on the North Shore, earning 66 per cent of the popular vote in the last election.
North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Naomi Yamamoto was also named to a new position in the cabinet. Yamamoto, who has served one term as MLA, moves to Minister of State for Small Business from her previous post as Minister of Advanced Education. In that role, Yamamoto will also sit on the cabinet committee on jobs and skills training.
Yamamoto took to Twitter after her appointment, saying she was "very excited" and adding, "This new role fits me well."
But Schreck said the shuffle is actually a demotion for the North Vancouver MLA.
"The premier threw her a boat anchor," he said.
North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite has been appointed parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Education, overseeing student support and parent engagement. Prior to entering provincial politics in 2009, Thornthwaite chaired the North Vancouver Board of Education.
Thornthwaite said she's keen to work on issues like improving educational conditions for students with special needs.
Sultan, Yamamoto and Thornthwaite have all said they plan to run again in the next provincial election.
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre announced Tuesday she will not seek re-election.
Schreck said Wednesday's shuffle didn't contain any major surprises. "It's a rearranging of the material she had to work with," he said of Clark's choices.
Schreck said nobody should be waiting for major policy developments over the next eight months before the election. "They are more or less in full-time campaign mode," he said.