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21 2011

A Quickie Assessment of the New McGuinty Cabinet

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

Here's a quickie assessment of the new McGuinty cabinet, led by Ontario's 24th premier himself.    McGuinty becomes the first Liberal premier since Oliver Mowat, 128 years ago, to win three consecutive elections.     The only other living Liberal premier of Ontario, David Peterson, was also in attendance.     The legislature's oldest MPP, Monte Kwinter, now age 80, was also in attendance. Kwinter was part of the Peterson cabinet 26 years ago. He'll become the oldest MPP in Ontario history on January 26, 2013, when he turns 81 years and 310 days old.     Jim Bradley was also part of the Peterson cabinet. He was one of Ontario's best ever environment ministers back in 1985, and yesterday, McGuinty put him back into that ministry. Bradley is the dean of the legislature, having been an MPP since 1977. That too was a minority Parliament which lasted four years under Premier Bill Davis.     Dwight Duncan is clearly the premier's most trusted minister. He returns as Minister of Finance, Chair of the Treasury Board (which oversees all government spending), and deputy premier as well.     Rick Bartolucci used to win his Sudbury riding with ease. This time, he barely squeaked by, winning by just 500 votes. He's back in cabinet as Northern Development and Mines minister.      . John Gerretson won a big promotion (Attorney-General), despite some difficulties during the last Parliament. He was widely blamed for botching the eco-fees file, when he was environment minister. But McGuinty owes him. Back in 1996, Gerretson was another leadership candidate, but moved to McGuinty after the first ballot, helping create some momentum for McGuinty's eventual win on the fifth ballot.     London West MPP Chris Bentley continues to have the premier's confidence, as he gets another tough challenge as energy minister. He'll have to continue to steer the Green Energy Act to greater public acceptance, particularly in rural Ontario.     Madeleine Meilleur moves to Correctional Services, while maintaining responsibility for Francophone Affairs.       Mississauga's Harinder Takhar keeps his cabinet position as minister of government services. Takhar was caught violating the conflict of interest guidelines in the last Parliament. He has been consistently demoted, but never dropped from cabinet. He is the only minister from the south Asian community in cabinet.       Kathleen Wynne enjoyed considerable success in education, and then transportation. Now, she's been shuffled to municipal affairs and housing, where she'll be responsible for repairing relationships with rural municipalities. On the other hand, as the Liberals continue to upload services from Ontario's cities and towns, look for her to enjoy several "good news" announcements in this post.           Michael Chan continues as minister of tourism. He won a by-election in 2007, then contested the general election the same year, then won again in 2011.       Unlike Rick Bartolucci, Thunder Bay's Michael Gravelle won by a much bigger margin this time. He becomes natural resources minister.       Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid won a big promotion, leaving the controversial energy portfolio for a new twin ministry of economic development and innovation. His first interview in his new portfolio was on The Agenda last night. Duguid takes the oath for his new portfolio. Economic Development ministers routinely travel the world, but Duguid will be on a shorter leash, no doubt. In a minority parliament, the government can fall at any time, so his vote can never be too far from home.     Deb Matthews from London retains the health portfolio. The Liberals managed to hold health spending to just over 3% last year but will have to do even better to reduce the deficit this year. She stared down the pharmacists last year. This year, she'll have to tackle the doctors as the new fee schedule requires renegotiating.     Matthews' sister, Shelley Peterson and her husband, former Premier David Peterson, look on, as Matthews is sworn in.       John Milloy gets a doubly tough job: community and social services, and house leader --- always a challenging post in a minority parliament. Milloy, however, has something going for him. He's widely liked even by the opposition parties.       Margarett Best (yes, that's correctly spelled) becomes the first black woman in Ontario history to be re-elected. Her former ministry of health promotion has been consumed by the ministry of health, so she gets a new portfolio: consumer services.       Laurel Broten from Etobicoke-Lakeshore gets a big promotion to the education portfolio. Her young twin sons were on hand to watch her swearing-in. She confirmed her kids attend their local public (Catholic) school.  The ministries of health, education, correctional services, and municipal affairs are all led by women. The premier says women control the spending for 2/3 of the budget. The comment no doubt comes in response to criticism that the Liberals have much less female representation in cabinet this time, compared to last.       Broten's uncle is Albert Roy, who was a Liberal MPP from eastern Ontario when David Peterson was opposition leader.       Linda Jeffrey from Brampton-Springdale never has to worry about saving the elk versus jobs at sawmills again. She's been moved from natural resources to the ministry of labour, with responsibility as well for seniors' issues.     Eric Hoskins got the second highest vote total in the 416 with 25,048 votes. He moves to children's and youth services --- right in line with his past efforts to save children in the world's worst places, when he was with Doctors without Borders.       Glen Murray used to be mayor of Winnipeg. Now he moves to training, colleges, and universities. He won the most votes in the 416 (25,236 votes --- although he had many thousand more potential voters than Hoskins).     Another former mayor, Bob Chiarelli of Ottawa, takes on a double portfolio of infrastructure and transportation.       Charles Sousa from Mississauga South managed to win re-election as a Liberal in one of the most Conservative seats in Ontario. I think he may be the first Liberal ever to do that. He's now citizenship minister, and his re-election efforts were no doubt aided by the Liberals' cancelling the gas fired power plant in the riding next to Sousa's.       Ted McMeekin left cabinet a few years ago when he developed prostate cancer. He's now cancer free, and so McGuinty has put him back in, this time as minister of agriculture and rural affairs. McMeekin represents a suburban Hamilton riding, which does have some rural (or at least, exurban) features.      

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