Wil­son’s out as Ford shuf­fles cabi­net

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On­tario Premier Doug Ford shuf­fled his cabi­net Mon­day just months af­ter tak­ing the reins of the prov­ince, a sig­nif­i­cant and un­ex­pected re­struc­tur­ing that fol­lowed the res­ig­na­tion of one of his top min­is­ters.The move — in which six Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­tors were re­as­signed — was an­nounced in a news re­lease Mon­day morn­ing, prompt­ing sug­ges­tions from crit­ics that Ford’s gov­ern­ment was strug­gling and calls for the premier to ex­plain his de­ci­sion.Ford did not give rea­sons for the new ap­point­ments but said in the state­ment that the shuf­fle would help his gov­ern­ment achieve its goals.“Af­ter four months of un­prece­dented ac­tion, we are tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity to cal­i­brate our cabi­net as­sign­ments to en­sure we con­tinue to de­liver on our com­mit­ments to the peo­ple,” he said.Ford said PC House Leader Todd Smith would take on the ad­di­tional role of min­is­ter of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, job cre­ation and trade to re­place Jim Wil­son, who stepped down on Fri­day.John Yak­abuski, who served as trans­porta­tion min­is­ter, will be­come min­is­ter of nat­u­ral re­sources and forestry. Jeff Yurek, who held the nat­u­ral re­sources port­fo­lio, will take on the trans­porta­tion file.Sylvia Jones will take over the job of com­mu­nity safety and cor­rec­tional ser­vices min­is­ter from Michael Ti­bollo, who will be­come min­is­ter of tourism, cul­ture and sport.Bill Walker will join cabi­net by suc­ceed­ing Smith as min­is­ter of gov­ern­ment and con­sumer ser­vices.Some cau­cus po­si­tions are also shift­ing, with Lorne Coe ap­pointed gov­ern­ment cau­cus whip and Doug Downey deputy whip. Ford said all other min­is­te­rial, par­lia­men­tary as­sis­tant, and gov­ern­ment cau­cus and com­mit­tee roles would re­main un­changed.Many min­is­ters who have been in the spot­light since the Tories formed gov­ern­ment in June, in­clud­ing Health Min­is­ter Chris­tine El­liott, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Vic Fedeli and Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Lisa Thomp­son, are stay­ing in their cur­rent roles.Crit­ics voiced con­cerns about the sud­den­ness of the shuf­fle, say­ing Ford needs to pro­vide rea­sons for mak­ing such sig­nif­i­cant changes so soon into his man­date.“These ac­tions make it abun­dantly clear that Ford is try­ing to pa­per over the prob­lems in his hand-picked cabi­net. To re­move and de­mote a number of min­is­ters af­ter just a few months is trou­bling,” NDP deputy leader Sara Singh said in a news con­fer­ence.“I think it makes us won­der, you know, is this gov­ern­ment ready to gov­ern and are they ready to do the things that they need to do for On­tario’s fam­i­lies?”That Ford felt the need for such ma­jor change so early on does not in­spire con­fi­dence in his gov­ern­ment, said in­terim Lib­eral leader John Fraser.“Premier Ford and his gov­ern­ment have not stopped cam­paign­ing since the elec­tion. They were given a man­date to gov­ern and take care of those things that are im­por­tant to On­tario fam­i­lies, not to con­tinue cam­paign­ing. This shuf­fle shows they are strug­gling to make that tran­si­tion,” Fraser said in a state­ment.A pub­lic ser­vice union said in a state­ment that the gov­ern­ment ap­pears to be “lurch­ing and stag­ger­ing out of con­trol.”“Ford pulling the plug on his four-month-old cabi­net doesn’t in­spire con­fi­dence,” said War­ren “Smokey” Thomas, pres­i­dent of the On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union. “This gov­ern­ment is drown­ing in its own bath­wa­ter and cir­cling the drain.”Gov­ern­ments typ­i­cally sit for roughly a year — enough time to see poli­cies de­velop — be­fore switch­ing their lineup, said Genevieve Tel­lier, a po­lit­i­cal-sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa.It’s also un­clear why Ford made so many changes rather than sim­ply re­plac­ing Wil­son, though it sug­gests the premier was not sat­is­fied with how a few min­is­ters were han­dling their port­fo­lios de­spite prais­ing some of them as re­cently as last week, Tel­lier said.“Maybe Ford was ex­pect­ing more from those min­istries,” she said, not­ing that trans­porta­tion ap­peared to be a pri­or­ity in the elec­tion cam­paign but has not gen­er­ated any ma­jor poli­cies since then.I think it makes us won­der, you know, is this gov­ern­ment ready to gov­ern …?

On­tario Premier Doug Ford’s says the changes in his cabi­net are de­signed to help “de­liver on our com­mit­ments.”

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