Meet the Progressive Conservatives’ new cabinet

ANALYSIS: Doug Ford is officially the premier of Ontario, and he’s now named his cabinet. Here’s what we know, writes John Michael McGrath
By John Michael McGrath - Published on June 29, 2018
Doug Ford on the lawn at Queen's Park
Tory leader Doug Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s 26th premier at Queen’s Park on Friday. (John Michael McGrath)

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It’s official: at 11 a.m. on Friday, Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford was sworn in as Ontario’s 26th premier by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell at Queen’s Park. Shortly thereafter, the LG named Ford’s cabinet to their ministries.

Ford’s cabinet is made up primarily of Tory MPPs who’ve been at Queen’s Park for several years, but there are also some new faces.

Here’s what we know.

Big names at the big ministries

Aside from the premier’s office itself, all of the most significant cabinet portfolios have gone to veteran MPPs. (Ford, of course, is a rookie MPP.)

Ford has picked Victor Fedeli as his minister of finance — he’ll be drawing on the Nippissing MPP’s experience as finance critic to address what will be the biggest challenge of Ford’s coming term in office: implementing the tax cuts Ford has promised without making cuts in service spending that could be unpopular enough to make the Tories a one-term government. Fedeli is well-versed in the province’s public accounts, but his appointment wasn’t guaranteed: names like Rod Phillips and Peter Bethlenfalvy had also been tossed around as potential finance picks.

The new minister of health and long-term care is Christine Elliott, who’s returning to Queen’s Park having previously served as a member of the legislative assembly from 2006 to 2015. She became familiar with the health-care file as an opposition MPP, and after resigning (temporarily, it turns out), she served as the province’s first patient ombudsman. Elliott will also serve as deputy premier.

Education goes to Huron–Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. Thompson has been an MPP since the 2011 election, one of many Tories elected that year when the Liberals were reduced to a minority. While Thompson never held the education portfolio as an opposition critic, her status as a rural MPP could be a signal that the Tories plan to make rural school closures a high priority in the coming term.

The one novice politician assigned to a powerful ministry is Caroline Mulroney, who, along with Elliott, challenged Ford for the party leadership earlier this year. Mulroney, like Ford, is a first-time MPP, but she was a successful lawyer in the private sector and will now serve as Ontario’s attorney general.

Ministry name changes

The government may already be signalling certain policy intentions through ministry names, some of which are changing under Ford. The former Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is now Environment, Conservation, and Parks; it will be held by Rod Phillips from Ajax. Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation is now Indigenous Affairs, and will be held by Greg Rickford from Kenora. (Rickford, a former federal MP, will also hold the portfolio for a newly combined ministry of Energy, Northern Development, and Mines. For now, Indigenous Affairs will remain a separate portfolio that Rickford holds concurrently.) The post-secondary education portfolio, which had been renamed Advanced Education and Skills Development under the Liberals is reverting back to its previous designation of Training, Colleges, and Universities.

The Tories seem to have abandoned some of the naming choices the Liberals adopted late in their tenure at Queen’s Park, paring them down and opting for more straightforward terminology.

Rookie assignments

New MPPs other than Mulroney, Phillips, and Rickford have also been handed significant files. Peter Bethlenfalvy will be Treasury Board president, responsible for scrutinizing government spending. Kanata–Carleton’s Merillee Fullerton will be the minister of training, colleges and universities. Michael Tibollo, representing Vaughan–Woodbridge, will hold the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, overseeing the province’s police and correctional centres.

A lack of diversity

The larger and more diverse PC caucus could have made it easier for Ford to assemble his team with an eye to gender and racial balance. But Ford’s move to hand files overwhelmingly to MPPs who served in the last legislature means that his cabinet won’t be winning any diversity prizes for now.

The Ford cabinet is overwhelmingly white and male: of the 21 ministers (seven fewer than in Wynne’s last cabinet), only seven are women, and only one — Raymond Cho, minister responsible for seniors’ affairs — is a person of colour. If past experience is any guide, however, Ford’s cabinet will almost certainly change over the next four years. As newly elected MPPs distinguish themselves, younger and more diverse faces are likely to be named to cabinet — and, notwithstanding Ford’s gesture toward belt-tightening with a smaller cabinet, he’s very likely to have more ministers holding more portfolios when he runs for re-election four years from now.

The complete list

Peter Bethlenfalvy - President of the Treasury Board

Raymond Cho - Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

Steve Clark - Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Christine Elliott - Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Deputy Premier

Victor Fedeli - Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet

Doug Ford - Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Merrilee Fullerton - Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

Ernie Hardeman - Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Sylvia Jones - Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Lisa MacLeod - Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues

Monte McNaughton - Minister of Infrastructure

Caroline Mulroney - Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

Rod Phillips - Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Greg Rickford - Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs

Laurie Scott - Minister of Labour

Todd Smith - Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and Government House Leader

Lisa Thompson - Minister of Education

Michael Tibollo - Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Jim Wilson - Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

John Yakabuski - Minister of Transportation

Jeff Yurek - Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

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