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Queen’s Park Watch: Cabinet Making on a Budget

Today Dalton McGuinty named his new cabinet: what does it mean for Toronto?

Premier Dalton McGuinty today made like the Ikea marketing department and named a new cabinet, which includes 10 members from right here in El Toro.

Faced with a post-election drop in MPPs from 71 to a just-shy-of-majority 53, McGuinty trimmed the fat from his executive council, reducing the minister count from 28 to 22 (including himself). The slimming isn’t just due to a lack of bench strength, it also helps the government avoid charges of gravy-training; a garden-variety MPP can be hired for around $115,000 but a minister will cost you almost $50,000 more.

There are no new faces this time around, and the high ratio of Torontonians is less a reflection of our awesomeness than of the fact that the Grits perceived elitishness and enthusiasm for wind farms served them poorly in northern and rural ridings. Four cabinet ministers lost their seats in the October 6 election, including John Wilkinson and Leona Dombrowsky who held the key portfolios of Environment and Education respectively, and the remaining Grit talent pool is heavily urban (although not in the euphemistic sense favoured by radio station programmers).

Some key ministries are unchanged. Dwight Duncan (Windsor–Tecumseh), credited with not doing as bad of a job as he could have during the late financial crisis, will stay on in that role, and also snags the title of deputy premier. Deb Matthews (London North-Centre) hangs on to the high profile and taxpayer-intensive Health portfolio.

Of particular interest to Hogtowners is Kathleen Wynne’s new gig; the Don Valley West MPP leaves Transportation to take on both the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Municipal Affairs is responsible for setting and enforcing standards for some local services like land use planning, building regulation, and social housing, and also doles out cash for some of those services. Putting Wynne in charge of this set of files could be considered a shot across Mayor Rob Ford’s bow, since the two have had a sometimes choppy relationship in the past.

Bob Chiarelli (Ottawa West, Nepean) will also matter to Toronto; he retains the Ministry of Infrastructure and adds the Ministry of Transportation to his duties. If we want a Finch subway anytime in the next couple of decades, Chiarelli should be getting e-vites to City Hall cocktail parties. (Then again Chiarelli, who was previously mayor of Ottawa for 10 years, lost that post in 2006—he was defeated while running on a platform of building, no, not subways, but light rail.)

Overall, this is a cautious cabinet, with McGuinty relying on experience rather than novelty, but Toronto’s high representation rate will hopefully bode well for municipal dealings with Queen’s Park over the next four years.

The full list of cabinet ministers:
Premier and Intergovernmental Affairs: Dalton McGuinty
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Ted McMeekin
Attorney General: John Gerretsen
Children and Youth Services: Eric Hoskins
Citizenship and Immigration: Charles Sousa
Community Safety and Correctional Services, Francophone Affairs: Madeleine Meilleur
Community and Social Service: John Milloy
Consumer Services: Margarett Best
Economic Development and Innovation: Brad Duguid
Education, Women’s Issues: Laurel Broten
Energy: Chris Bentley
Environment: Jim Bradley
Finance: Dwight Duncan
Government Services: Harinder Takhar
Health: Deb Matthews
Labour, Seniors: Linda Jeffrey
Municipal Affairs and Housing and Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs: Kathleen Wynne
Natural Resources (Forestry): Michael Gravelle
Northern Development and Mines: Rick Bartolucci
Tourism and Culture: Michael Chan
Training, Colleges and Universities: Glen Murray
Transportation and Ministry of Infrastructure: Bob Chiarelli

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