Colchester North MLA Karen Casey may be the queen of political roller-coaster rides.
Which must have made the drive from Annapolis Royal, where she was sworn in as Nova Scotia’s new Education Minister yesterday, to her home in Valley that much more gratifying.
Consider all that’s happened these past five years.
After wrapping up a two-and-a-half year stint as Education Minister in January 2009, Casey spent a few months as Health Minister in the dying days of the Rodney MacDonald government.
She later criss-crossed the province as Progressive Conservative interim leader before dramatically crossing the floor and joining the Liberals early in 2011.
At the time, with the governing NDP seemingly poised to spend a couple of terms in power, Casey, then 63, seemed a longshot to ever hold a position of real power again.
Yet, in hindsight, perhaps the move signaled a subtle shift in political fortunes – one that saw the provincial Liberals showing momentum with a powerhouse ex-minister joining the team while the NDP increasingly spun its wheels.
Fast forward to 2013 and Casey, the former teacher/principal who grew up in Bass River, is back in the saddle again.
Undoubtedly, given her background, political experience and toughness (remember, this is the minister who once dismissed an entire elected school board), she was one of the easier cabinet choices for Premier Stephen McNeil.
And education is the perfect fit because Casey surely knows the core issues as well as anyone.
One item she is passionate about is trying to prepare high school students earlier for the workforce.
“We have to look at supply and demand,” Casey said yesterday. ‘We have to look at the skill-sets that companies and businesses are looking for.”
She also told this paper that she plans to make special needs students a top priority. In fact, after consultations with parents and teachers, finding the support that will allow them to be successful in the classroom while also allowing teachers the time to teach the rest of the class is first on her to-do list.
“I support a policy of inclusion but not without support for the teachers,” she said.
No doubt, some of her goals will be tempered by fiscal realities but clearly Casey is back in the spotlight and we’re betting that she can’t wait to get started.