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Premier Kathleen Wynne, right, is seen with Health Minister Deb Matthews, left, during a swearing in ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont.. Monday, February 11, 2013. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Premier Kathleen Wynne, right, is seen with Health Minister Deb Matthews, left, during a swearing in ceremony at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ont.. Monday, February 11, 2013. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Ontario Premier Wynne calls for ‘fair society,’ gives rivals spots in cabinet shakeup Add to ...

Kathleen Wynne was sworn into office as Ontario Premier Monday afternoon, promising a "fair society" and a new era of post-partisan conciliation.

In a ceremony in the legislative chamber at Queen's Park, Ms. Wynne tried to draw connections between the values of social justice, which have fuelled her political career, with the fiscal focus that must dominate a government facing a nearly $12-billion deficit and an uncertain economy.

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"We have to understand the interlocking nature of our challenges. We can't speak of issues in isolation from each other. We have to talk about how our infrastructure underlies our economy. How education feeds into productivity," she said. "How our health and security and confidence enable us all to contribute and flourish."

She spoke repeatedly of co-operation, both within her caucus and with the opposition parties, calling for politicians to "pursue progress and attempt to rid ourselves of rancour."

"Because our individual dreams may be articulated in English or in French or in Mohawk or in Cree or in Urdu, but they speak to a collective vision that must be celebrated and pursued," she said.

She referenced her historic status as the province's first female premier.

"It is not lost on me that I am the first woman to be sworn into this office. And that I am doing so with the support of the woman that I love," she said.

Ms. Wynne unveiled a large, 27-person cabinet, which she said was necessary to face the province's troubles.

That cabinet includes Charles Sousa, one of Ms. Wynne’s leadership rivals, who takes over from Dwight Duncan as finance minister.

The business credentials of Mr. Sousa, a former bank executive, will be meant to help balance Ms. Wynne’s background in social policy and project an image of fiscal restraint.

The Mississauga MPP ran for leader on an economics-focused platform. He pulled out after two ballots and took his support to Ms. Wynne, sealing her victory.

Read the full list of Ms. Wynne's new cabinet.

One of Ms. Wynne’s closest allies, health minister Deb Matthews, will remain at her post and also take on the role of deputy premier. A friend of Ms. Wynne’s since both were elected to the legislature in 2003, she co-chaired the premier-designate’s leadership campaign.

Other big jobs will go to Liz Sandals, who will be elevated from the backbench to the education portfolio; Bob Chiarelli, who will move from transportation to energy; and Glen Murray, who will take over Mr. Chiarelli’s old post.

Ms. Wynne’s other leadership rivals, Eric Hoskins and Harinder Takhar, will also sit at the cabinet table. Mr. Hoskins, who finished last in the race and backed Ms. Wynne after the first ballot, will take the economic development ministry. Brad Duguid will move from that post to training, colleges and universities.

Mr. Takhar will return to his old job as government services minister. Although Mr. Takhar dropped out of the race to support Ms. Wynne’s chief rival, Sandra Pupatello, he showed his strong organizational chops by drawing a large amount of support in the 905 suburban belt around Toronto, a key area the Liberals need to win in the next election. Mr. Takhar represents the riding of Mississauga-Erindale.

Ms. Wynne’s office said Monday that she is still trying to press Ms. Pupatello to run in a by-election to fill Mr. Duncan’s Windsor-Tecumseh seat, which is adjacent to Ms. Pupatello’s old riding.

She denied rumours Ms. Pupatello has been the first choice for a cabinet job and that the premier-designate had to go to a secondary plan when she refused to commit to running.

“This is the cabinet Kathleen wanted and always planned on,” her office said in a statement. “Sandra Pupatello is still considering her options, the Premier-Designate would like her to run, or be involved either way.”

Ms. Sandals, a former school trustee, has spent years as a cabinet understudy, serving as parliamentary assistant in both the education and transportation portfolios. She inherits a high-stakes job; teacher anger over a bill that imposed contracts pushed their unions to campaign against the party in a by-election last year. One of her first orders of business will be to try to strike a deal with teachers’ unions to restore extracurricular activities in the province’s public schools.

Laurel Broten, the previous education minister, will remain in cabinet running intergovernmental affairs.

Mr. Chiarelli, meanwhile, will be tasked with handling the fallout over the costly cancellations of two gas-fired power plants, which the opposition has charged were purely political moves designed to save Liberal seats in the Toronto suburbs. Both opposition parties pressed the government on the issue daily throughout the last legislative session.

His predecessor in the portfolio, Chris Bentley, has already announced he will resign from the legislature this week.

Mr. Murray, a former mayor of Winnipeg, will also have a tough assignment. Provincial transit planning agency Metrolinx is set to unveil a strategy for funding transportation infrastructure this summer, a plan which could include new taxes and tolls. It will be the Toronto MPP’s task to sell voters and jittery, tax-averse municipal politicians on it.

Mr. Murray sought the party leadership, but dropped out to back Ms. Wynne before voting day.

Ms. Wynne will serve as her own agriculture minister, in a bid to mend fences with rural Ontario, which turned its back on the Liberals in the 2011 election. But Jeff Leal will be promoted off the backbench to help out as Minister of Rural Affairs.

John Gerretsen will remain attorney-general and John Milloy stays in his post as government house leader.

Yasir Naqvi, the fresh-faced Liberal Party president, will snag his first cabinet assignment as labour minister.

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