Ontario now has a new provincial government with Doug Ford sworn in as Premier this morning and a new trimmed down cabinet of 20 members. It would appear that Premier Ford has decided to make good use of the talent on his team and embrace a team of rivals approach to his cabinet with key positions for those he ran against to gain the party leadership. First and foremost, Christine Elliot is Deputy Premier and in charge of the important health portfolio. Caroline Mulroney is Attorney General and interim leader Vic Fedeli is in charge of the Finance portfolio. This is certainly an astute set of choices and bodes well for what will be a large set of challenges not the least of which will include dealing with the province’s finances.
And contrary to what might have been feared as a lack of interest in post-secondary issues, Premier Ford has not merged Training, Colleges and Universities with Education but instead given it its own minister – Merrilee Fullerton – who has a background as a physician. Also keep an eye on Monte McNaughton in the vital infrastructure portfolio. Interestingly, Premier Ford will also be Ontario’s federal diplomat in chief given that he is retaining the intergovernmental affairs portfolio for himself. He will be directly making Ontario’s case when it comes to transfer payments and working with the federal government.
In terms of northern Ontario representation in cabinet, we are well represented with two northern Ontario members. Kenora’s Greg Rickford is in charge of the all important energy portfolio as well as northern and indigenous affairs with his appointment as Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. This is alot and will be hard work but will give him the scope to be a key player in northern Ontario energy, resource and economic issues given the importance of First Nations in developing the Ring of Fire. And of course, there is Vic Fedeli from North Bay who probably has the most important and challenging job dealing with the province’s finances. Personally, I cannot think of a better person for the job given his years of work and interest on provincial finance matters.
So, there you have it. We have been sent a new government. Once again, the drama begins.