Doug Ford Shuffles Cabinet in Wake of Worrying Poll Numbers

 

Barely one year since taking office, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made some big changes to his cabinet in a shuffle announced this morning at Queen’s Park.

Amongst some of the biggest changes were in Finance and Education, where Vic Fedeli and Lisa Thompson were demoted in favour of outgoing Environment Minister Rod Phillips (now the new Finance Minister) and first-term MPP Stephen Lecce (King-Vaughan) as the new Education Minister.

As far local municipalities go, there is now at least one cabinet representative from the nearby Region of Peel: Prabmeet Sakaria (Brampton South) who is now ‘Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction’. Sakaria, a former corporate lawyer, is also a first-term MPP elected in the provincial election last year.

The rookie Brampton MPP has long been criticized for a lack of action on important Brampton issues such as more hospital funding, the cancelling of university funding and the mess on the GO line a few months ago. Perhaps this cabinet appointment is a way for Ford to alleviate the concerns of Brampton residents who feel the premier is ignoring them.

And while Sakaria’s new title sounds impressive, others are not so much.

Other new cabinet ministers Ford appointed include Jill Dunlop (Simcoe North), Doug Downey (Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte) and Paul Calandra (Markham-Stouffville). 

Some of the prominent changes Ford made to his cabinet are:

  • Fedeli being replaced by Phillips in Finance; Fedeli now takes over the Economic Development and Job Creation/Trade portfolio while remaining chair of Cabinet. Many commentators have cited Ford’s displeasure over the rollout of Fedeli’s first budget and the subsequent backlash over various cuts.
  • Lecce replacing Thompson in Education, as Thompson has been giving mixed signals regarding cuts in education funding and has generally been seen as a poor communicator.
  • Attorney General Caroline Mulroney has been sent to the Transportation file, and rookie MPP Kinga Surma (Etobicoke Centre) added as a new associate minister for transportation for the GTA. Downey becomes the new Attorney General.
  • Former Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek replaces Phillips as the new Environment Minister.
  • The Children’s Ministry once overseen by Lisa MacLeod has been split up. Todd Smith (the former Economic Development Minister) is now the new minister and Dunlop is the new  Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, presumably to take over the Autism file that MacLeod was seen to have bungled during this past year.
  • A new portfolio,  Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has been created and helmed by MPP Michael Tibollo, a Ford family friend and previous Tourism and Culture minister.

Thompson is now Government Services Minister, MacLeod was demoted to Tourism and Culture and depending on how you look at things, Mulroney and Yurek’s new jobs could be seen as a demotion of sorts, since Transportation and Environment are traditionally not strong areas for Conservatives.

The overall cabinet has been increased to 27 members, excluding Ford himself.

While this can be seen as a massive shakeup of Doug Ford’s one-year-old government, many argue that the issue isn’t the cabinet, but Ford himself. Ford’s unpopularity has been dragging his party down in opinion polls and the booing he received at the Raptors parade this past Monday basically sums up the displeasure, as many of those 2 million attendees came from outside Toronto where Tory ridings are abundant.

But if you feel a bit sorry for the ministers that got demoted after years of toiling on the opposition benches, maybe this comment below will put things in perspective. 

The next election isn’t until 2022, so for Ford’s team there is still time to put a better face on his government and refine what they are trying to tell people as to what it is they are doing for the people.

Your Comments