Ford shuf­fles cab­i­net

Move sees six PC leg­is­la­tors re­as­signed

Simcoe Reformer - - NEWS - Paola Lorig­gio

TORONTO — 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 — which saw six Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­tors re­as­signed — was an­nounced in a 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 Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive House Leader Todd Smith will 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 will 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 four­month-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.

“That may be part of the ex­pla­na­tion and if so, then we should ex­pect more ac­tiv­ity in the com­ing months about those port­fo­lios.”

Chris Yo ung/ THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Pre­mier Doug Ford shuf­fled his cab­i­net Mon­day, say­ing the change would help his gov­ern­ment achieve their goals.

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