Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Notes on the New Ontario Cabinet

First off, here's a list of the new cabinet members and their portfolios, via Liberal Scarf.

The cabinet consists of 22 members, down from the 27 positions in McGuinty's last cabinet. The five positions have not been eliminated per se, but there are now ministers who are taking over new portfolios. So, it's not necessarily a shrinking of the cabinet, as compared to more responsibility shoveled on top of certain members.

I won't go through the entire list, but here's some I've noted and would have liked to have seen:
  • Jim Bradley, the Dean of the Ontario Legislature, moves from Community Safety to Environment, a post he last held during the 1980's under David Peterson's government. In all honesty, I would have liked to have seen John Gerretsen, who gets the Attorney General portfolio, back in the post; yes, eco-fees were unpopular, but they were a new idea. This probably signals McGuinty deciding to slow down on the green file.
  • Kathleen Wynne takes over from Transportation to Municipal Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs. Wynne is a competent minister in whatever portfolio she's ever ended up in, and her move to these portfolios could signal a focus by McGuinty's government on the files, especially the former.
  • Michael Gravelle, one of the two Thunder Bay MPPs, gets Natural Resources. I get that Thunder Bay needs all the kudos possible for sticking Liberal, but I would have loved to have seen David Orazietti of Sault Ste. Marie getting this job, or any job really. He's a competent, young cabinet member, and he deserved something for holding on to a riding that trends NDP and Tory by a very large margin.
  • Agriculture, which went to Ted McMeekin, should have been the prime opportunity to hand something to Brant MPP Dave Levac, who direly needs to be in cabinet, but is seemingly never considered.
  • Glad to see Glen Murray with something. I like that guy. Same with Eric Hoskins.
  • I'm disappointed that no new faces were put into cabinet, and neither was Yasir Naqvi, Ottawa Centre MPP and OLP President, who has done a remarkable job keeping his seat and keeping the OLP from flying apart at the seams (which it is prone to do).
Overall, one can't help but notice that most of the cabinet members are from the urban areas of Ontario, which is unsurprising, but also signals a bit of a shift from the OLP's traditional rural roots, which it laid down during the Big Blue Machine era of the 1940's to 1980's. Yes, the OLP was more to the right in those days, but the continuing rural caucus was an asset to the OLP, and gave McGuinty good picks for cabinet, including the now-defeated Leona Dombrowsky. Now, the Liberals are facing a squeeze back into the urban core of Ontario, and the assets lost because of that are pretty disheartening.

Otherwise, great cabinet, and I look forward to seeing it in action over the next one/two/three/four years of McGuinty minority government!

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