On Friday, June 29, 2018, Ontario’s new government was sworn in. Who are the new players and what will they bring to their new roles? Here are a few insights into who’s who, and how the Ford Cabinet breaks with convention.
This 21-member Cabinet is dominated by rural and suburban ridings. The longstanding tradition of critics not becoming Ministers of the same portfolio comes to an end here, with multiple Ministers transitioning directly and countless others selected based on their expertise. The most significant example of this, of course, is Vic Fedeli, who served as critic of Finance for years and now becomes Minister. While it breaks with convention, there is no one in Cabinet who has spent more time studying Budgets than Mr. Fedeli, who published five editions of “Focus on Finance” analyzing the Liberal books. The most recent, published this May, was 130-pages long. He also earned credibility with Premier Ford for his work as Interim Leader during the leadership race.
Christine Elliott is also serving in a role for which she has very recent experience, Minister of Health. Prior to her return to politics for the leadership race, Ms. Elliott was the Patient Ombudsman. She also fills the role of Deputy Premier, a nod to her strong showing in the PC leadership race as well as her previous role as Deputy Leader alongside Tim Hudak.
Keeping his word, Doug Ford appointed a farmer to the Agriculture portfolio: Ernie Hardeman, who reprises his role, having served as Minister in the Mike Harris government. Ford selected for President of the Treasury Board a man with over 25-years of senior financial expertise, Peter Bethlenfalvy. Steve Clark, who was elected the youngest mayor in Canada when he was 22, and who served as the President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, becomes the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing.
Two-thirds of Cabinet positions are held by experienced MPPs, with only seven first-timers earning portfolios. It is clear from the selections that Premier Ford was not looking to reward, but rather to build a strong cabinet ‘for the people’ of Ontario. While Cabinet is modestly sized for now, most governments begin to uncouple portfolios as work intensifies. The considerably larger pool of 26 Parliamentary Assistants will serve as a proving ground for an expanded Cabinet, and for future shuffles. The impressive array of millennial-aged Parliamentary Assistants is definitely worth watching, especially Stephen Lecce, Prime Minister Harper’s former chief spokesperson who now serves in Infrastructure; Kinga Surma, whose Toronto City Hall experience will help a rural Minister deal with the Transportation portfolio; and Sam Oosterhoff, who is wildly popular amongst social conservatives and who will be supporting the curriculum re-write in the Education portfolio.
Peter Bethlenfalvy – President of the Treasury Board
An international leader in the financial services sector with over 25 years of senior leadership experience in capital markets, risk management and investments, Mr. Bethlenfalvy is a first-time MPP. He was most recently the Chief Investment and Risk Officer at CST Consultants. Prior to joining CST, he was Senior Vice President, financial regulations at Manulife Financial, where he was responsible for strategy and monitoring financial regulatory systems around the world. Bethlenfalvy was also President and Chief Operating Officer of TD Securities (USA).
Raymond Cho – Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
MPP, Scarborough-Rouge River
Immigrating to Canada from Korea in the 1960s, Mr. Cho worked 3 jobs to put himself through graduate school, ultimately earning a PhD in counseling psychology. A life-long human rights advocate, Cho was first elected to Toronto City Council in 1991, ultimately winning 8 elections. Throughout his years at City Hall, he remained very close to the Fords. Elected MPP in a 2016 by-election, Cho is a returning MPP.
Steve Clark – Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
MPP, Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes
Elected the youngest Mayor in Canada at the age of 22 in Brockville, Mr. Clark has spent his career in politics both directly as an elected official, and indirectly as a staffer and a journalist. Having served 3 terms as Mayor of Brockville, as President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and as the founding chair of the International Plowing Match and Country Festival, this role is tailor-made for Clark.
Christine Elliott – Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Deputy Premier
A lawyer and bank auditor, Ms. Elliott spent many years co-owning a law firm with her late husband, the Hon. Jim Flaherty. The mother of triplet sons, one of whom has a disability, Ms. Elliott has been a lifelong advocate for disabilities, co-founding the Abilities Centre in Whitby. Following 9 years of service as an MPP, she most recently served as Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman, where she fought for better access to health care for all. Ms. Elliott has been friends with the Ford family for over 20 years, and despite a contentious and extremely close leadership race, that friendship remains intact. As Minister of Health, she will be tasked with resolving long-standing disputes with Ontario’s doctors.
Vic Fedeli– Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet
A successful business owner for over 20 years, Mr. Fedeli was first elected Mayor of North Bay in 2003. He served two terms as mayor and is lauded for having transformed the city, turning its economics around. He has served as an MPP since 2011, and spent much of his tenure as the Finance Critic, publishing “Focus on Finance” regularly. Mr. Fedeli served as interim leader during the recent leadership contest that saw Premier Ford become PC Party Leader. As Minister of Finance, he will be responsible for figuring out how to pay for various campaign commitments, as well as the costs associated with unwinding Cap and Trade.
Merrilee Fullerton – Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton is a family physician and health advocate. Dr. Fullerton has been very active in professional medical associations and local health care organizations, including advisory roles with both the Ontario Medical Association and Canadian Medical Association, and membership in the City of Ottawa Board of Health and the local LHIN serving Ottawa and area.
Ernie Hardeman – Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
A farmer, Mr. Hardeman owned and operated Hardeman Feed Ltd for 30 years, serving as a volunteer firefighter for much of that time. Upon his retirement, he served in elected municipal office for over 15 years before being elected to the Ontario Legislature in June 1995. Mr. Hardeman was appointed as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing until 1999 and then to Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, to which he now returns.
Sylvia Jones – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Prior to her election as MPP in 2007, Ms. Jones worked in radio broadcasting. Her many critic responsibilities have included serving as the Critic for Community and Social Services; the Critic for Children and Youth Services; the Critic for Government Services; and the Opposition Deputy House Leader. Since being elected in 2007, Ms. Jones has introduced many pieces of legislation that have become law, including the Social Assistance Statute Law Amendment Act, the Aggregate Recycling Promotion Act and the Respecting Private Property Act. Prior to the election, she served as Deputy Leader and Critic for Infrastructure.
Lisa MacLeod – Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues
A proud hockey mom, Ms. MacLeod was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in a 2006 by-election as the youngest MPP in that parliament and the youngest conservative woman to be elected in Ontario, either federally or provincially. While in opposition, Ms. MacLeod successfully championed Rowan’s Law, Canada’s first concussion legislation, and previously served as the Treasury Board critic.
Monte McNaughton – Minister of Infrastructure
Mr. McNaughton is a successful entrepreneur and small business owner who, at the age of 20, was elected municipal councilor. Thrice elected municipally, he went on to serve as President of the Strathroy Chamber of Commerce before being elected MPP. He previously served as the Critic for Economic Development & Growth.
Caroline Mulroney – Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
A lawyer and financial analyst with degrees from Harvard and NYU, Ms. Mulroney co-founded and chairs the Shoebox Project for Shelters, supporting thousands of women and girls in shelters or facing homelessness. While working as Vice President of a Toronto investment firm, she has also served as member of the Board of Directors of the SickKids Foundation and a Governor of the National Theatre School of Canada. Ms. Mulroney is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
Rod Phillips – Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Mr. Phillips most recently was the Chair of both Afiniti Canada, a global artificial intelligence company, and Postmedia, Canada’s largest news media company. He is the former President and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Shepell.fgi, a Canadian based international employee assistance company. At the age of 32, he served as Chief of Staff to the first Mayor of the amalgamated City of Toronto. Mr. Phillips has a lifetime commitment to community service, most recently as Chair of the Boards of CivicAction and the TELUS GTA Community Board leading work to reduce gridlock, youth unemployment and improve mental health across the GTA. As Minister of Environment, he will be responsible for quickly extricating Ontario from the Cap and Trade program.
Greg Rickford – Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
MPP, Kenora-Rainy River
Working as a nurse early in his career, Mr. Rickford was stationed in remote First Nations communities across Northern Ontario. He would continue to work with Indigenous groups when he became a lawyer and later as the first Conservative MP to be elected in Kenora. In Harper’s Cabinet, he served as the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) and was later promoted to Minister of Natural Resources. He will be a champion for infrastructure and mining projects, especially the Ring of Fire, whose largest investor, Noront Resources, had Mr. Rickford on its Board of Directors. As Minister of Energy, one of his top priorities will be to immediately replace the Board and management of Hydro One, and quickly dismantle the Green Energy Act programs.
Laurie Scott – Minister of Labour
MPP, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes
Ms. Scott spent much of her career working as a registered nurse. First elected in 2003, she has served as critic in many portfolios. She is a tireless advocate for victims of human sex trafficking in Ontario.
Todd Smith – Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and Government House Leader
MPP, Bay of Quinte
Mr. Smith hosted a morning radio show at the Quinte Broadcasting station for more than 16 years and served as news director. First elected in 2011, Mr. Smith served in a number of critic roles and has been an active player in introducing new legislation. During his first term, he introduced legislation aimed at reducing red tape in the beverage and alcohol sector by allowing Ontario products easier access to market.
Lisa Thompson – Minister of Education
A farmer, Ms. Thompson served as the former General Manager of the Ontario Dairy Goat Cooperative and a rural community advisor for the Ministry of Agriculture before her first election as MPP in 2011. She has served in a variety of critic roles. In the role of Minister of Education, Ms. Thompson will be responsible for overseeing the consultation and rewriting process for Ontario’s curriculum, including the sex-ed portion.
Michael Tibollo – Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
A distinguished lawyer with over 30 years of experience, Mr. Tibollo was instrumental in the creation of Italian Heritage Month in Canada. He is also an active bee-keeper who cares about the environment and nature.
Jim Wilson – Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
Mr. Wilson is the longest serving MPP in government and the dean of the PC caucus. First elected in 1990, Mr. Wilson served as Minister in multiple portfolios, including Health, Energy, Science & Technology, Northern Development & Mines, and Environment. In opposition, he served as House Leader, and in 2014-2015, he served as Interim Leader. As Minister for Job Creation, he will be expected to deliver on Premier Ford’s primary promise of making Ontario “Open for Business.”
John Yakabuski – Minister of Transportation
Mr. Yakabuski is now serving his 5th consecutive term in office, first elected in 2003. Formerly a real estate sales representative, he is best known locally as the former owner-operator of Yakabuski’s Home Hardware in Barry’s Bay, which he operated for 20 years. Mr. Yakabuski served in opposition as the critic for Labour and Training, Energy, and as Chief Whip.
Jeff Yurek – Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
A pharmacist, Mr. Yurek was first elected in 2011 and spent much of his time raising health-related issues in the legislature. He is responsible for the creation of “Ryan’s Law”, which set standards of care for children attending Ontario schools that require the use of asthma medication. Mr. Yurek served in various critic roles, including Transportation & Auto-Insurance Reform, Health, and Natural Resources & Forestry.
- Robert Bailey – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services
- Toby Barrett – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
- Paul Calandra – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (Energy)
- Stan Cho – Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Treasury Board
- Doug Downey – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance
- Amy Fee – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services (Children and Autism)
- Christine Hogarth – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Housing)
- Belinda Karahalios – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services (Community and Social Services)
- Vincent Ke – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
- Andrea Khanjin – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
- Stephen Lecce – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Infrastructure
- Robin Martin – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Health)
- Gila Martow – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour
- Jim McDonell – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Municipal Affairs)
- Norm Miller – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Sam Oosterhoff – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education
- Lindsey Park – Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General
- Michael Parsa – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (Small Business)
- Randy Pettapiece – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- David Piccini – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
- Ross Romano – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (Northern Development and Mines) and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs
- Prabmeet Sarkaria – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
- Amanda Simard – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
- Donna Skelly – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade (Trade)
- Kinga Surma – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation
- Effie Triantafilopoulos – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (Long-Term Care)