Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty will promote a handful of experienced veterans to his new, leaner cabinet with 22 seats at the table, six fewer than before.
Dwight Duncan, who retains the prized finance post, will also be named Deputy Premier, signalling that the government’s No. 1 priority will be grappling with the weakening economy. Mr. Duncan, a 52-year-old native of Windsor, has been Finance Minister for the past four years.
Instead of bringing in fresh faces, Mr. McGuinty will opt to give several cabinet ministers expanded duties as his government begins its third term in office. None of the half dozen new Liberal MPPs will get a seat at the cabinet table. But none of the existing ministers will return to the backbenches.
Mr. McGuinty is refashioning his cabinet after four ministers were defeated in the provincial election earlier this month and three retired. Ministers Leona Dombrowsky (education), John Wilkinson (environment), Sophia Aggelonitis (revenue and seniors), and Carol Mitchell (agriculture) all lost their seats.
“This cabinet has the experience Ontario needs to steer us through a very uncertain global economy,” a government official said Wednesday evening. “It's a strong, steady group that's focused on jobs and economy growth.”
Chris Bentley, a London lawyer who was first elected to the legislature in 2003, will become Energy Minister, one of the most senior portfolios but a post that will also leave him responsible for shepherding through the government’s controversial clean energy initiatives. Mr. Bentley will replace Brad Duguid, who will move to Economic Development and Innovation.
In another major promotion, Laurel Broten will be appointed to the newly-created post of Minister of Education and Women’s Issues. She was previously responsible for children and youth services and replaces Leona Dombrowsky, who was defeated in the recent provincial election.
Kathleen Wynne will assume responsibility for both Municipal Affairs and Housing as well as Aboriginal Affairs. Bob Chiarelli, currently Infrastructure Minister will also take over the Transportation portfolio, one previously held by Ms. Wynne. Rick Bartolucci will be appointed chair of cabinet in addition to his new posting as Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
The new cabinet ministers will be sworn in at a ceremony in the legislature on Thursday afternoon.
For the first time in his eight years as Premier, Mr. McGuinty will have to work with his political rivals. The Liberals won 53 seats, just shy of a majority. With 54 of the legislature’s 107 seats between them, the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats would be able to bring down the Liberal government if they chose.