Wynne shuffles cabinet after Murray’s departure
TORONTO — Ontario’s premier had to shuffle a few members of her cabinet Monday as her environment minister announced his resignation.
Environment Minister Glen Murray, who implemented Ontario’s ambitious cap-and trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said he is leaving his cabinet position immediately to become executive director of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank, effective Sept. 5. He will resign his Toronto Centre seat on Sept. 1.
Chris Ballard, who had been serving as Ontario’s housing minister, was made environment minister, and former Toronto councillor Peter Milczyn was promoted to cabinet to take over at housing.
Murray’s announcement came as a surprise, as he had indicated just months ago that he would run again in next year’s provincial election. But Premier Kathleen Wynne dismissed suggestions his departure is related to the Liberals’ electoral prospects, which polls indicate are hurting.
“I do not see this as a vote of nonconfidence,” she said. “I see this as an individual having to make a decision about his life and he is a friend and I wish him well.”
A former mayor of Winnipeg, Murray was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2007 and served as minister of research and innovation and minister of training, colleges and universities under then-premier Dalton McGuinty. He developed a reputation around the legislature for impassioned defences of environmental policy, a willingness to opine on the topic at length, and an eagerness to take on critics.
Wynne said she would not be calling a Toronto Centre byelection with just nine months before the start of a provincial election campaign. “There is a significant cost associated with running byelections,” she said. “We’re moving into that period well within a year of a general election, and historically there has been a practice when you get that close it’s not necessarily responsible to call a byelection, so we won’t be doing that.”
Wynne also announced Monday that francophone affairs will become a standalone ministry. Marie-France Lalonde, the corrections minister, who is already responsible for the file, will become the minister of francophone affairs.
Premier Kathleen Wynne with Environment Minister Glen Murray in June.