Not even one year after the Progressive Conservative government was sworn in at Queen’s Park, Premier Doug Ford has shuffled his cabinet, and not just a minor shuffle. In all, the cabinet was increased by seven people, and over 20 members of the old cabinet were shifted to new positions including high profile ministers like Vic Fedeli, Lisa MacLeod, and Caroline Mulroney.
“These changes will ensure that the Government of Ontario will effectively continue with its agenda of creating good jobs, supporting small businesses, putting more money in people’s pockets and restoring trust and accountability in government, while also protecting what matters most through sound investments in health care and education,” said a government press release.
“Every one of our cabinet ministers, I feel, have done a good job, but we can always do a better job,” Ford said at a press conference after the shuffle was announced. Ford also added that his government has accomplished 85 per cent of its agenda in the first year, after passing 20 major pieces of legislation.
Many political observers and pundits though aren’t seeing this cabinet shuffle as a victory lap, especially when you consider that just seven of the original 21 members of cabinet still hold their original positions. At the same time, many high-profile members of that original cabinet have received what can only be described as a demotions.
Perhaps the most shocking is the demotion of Finance Minister and former interim leader Vic Fedeli, who will now serve in the new cabinet position of Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. It’s rumoured that the change is due to the negative press from the announcement of the 2019 budget, and the ongoing trickle of announced cuts, which filled headlines regularly for weeks after the budget was released.
Another demotion went to Lisa MacLeod. The embattled former Minister of Children, Community and Social Services is now the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, likely due to her handling of the changes to funding for autism therapies. Lisa Thompson has been made Minister of Government and Consumer Services, which is a change from her last position as Minister of Education.
And just as university students across the province are receiving their OSAP assessments and, in many cases, are noticing significant cuts, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton has been appointed as Minister of Long-Term Care.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care was part of the portfolio of Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, who still remains the Minister of Health. The other former PC leadership candidate in cabinet, Caroline Mulroney, was not so lucky as she saw her influence downsized. Although Mulroney will remain Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, she’s been moved from the Attorney General’s position to the Ministry of Transportation.
The former Minister of Transportation, Jeff Yurek, is now the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, while the MPP that formally held that portfolio, Rod Phillips, is now the Minister of Finance.
You can see the full list of changes to the cabinet below. The highlighted yellow areas are for ministers whose positions remain unchanged:
The sweeping changes come just one week before the first anniversary of Ford and his government’s swearing in. It also comes one week after the Toronto Star reported that Ford was eager to “reset” is his administration after low poll numbers were released suggesting that Ford was less popular now than former Premier Kathleen Wynne was when she was defeated in last spring’s provincial election. Ford was also booed at the Raptors victory party in Nathan Philips Square on Monday afternoon.
The new positions will take effect immediately, but the legislature will not sit again until late October after the Federal election.
Above image courtesy of the National Post.