The Situation – A government on its back-foot
Today, Premier Ford announced another cabinet shuffle, prompted by recent resignations of Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery Kaleed Rasheed, who stepped down from both cabinet and caucus on Wednesday, and the surprise resignation this morning of Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton, who is departing for a job in the private sector.
This cabinet shuffle is occurring mere weeks after the shuffle following the resignation of Minister Clark in the wake of the Auditor General and Integrity Commissioner’s reports concerning the removal of lands from the Greenbelt. This shuffle exemplifies a government in turmoil, striving to refocus the narrative on issues that matter most to Ontarians: the cost of living and housing crisis.
In a strategic reconfiguration of cabinet positions, the inclusion of new and younger faces is a concerted effort to ensure younger voters’ concerns are represented and to showcase the up-and-coming talent in the Ontario PC caucus. Newly appointed ministers bring fresh perspectives to their ministries’ ongoing policy portfolios, which is precisely what the government aims to achieve as the legislature reconvenes next week — a fresh start.
The challenges this government faces have been simmering for months, only to have surfaced in a significant way over the past six weeks. The Premier has reversed course on the Greenbelt issue and returned to his campaign position of not opening up the Greenbelt to residential housing development. With this significant change in direction, the Premier is hoping to shift the focus back to the core concerns of voters – affordability and general anxiety over the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Here’s what you need to know:
- David Piccini will be replacing Monte McNaughton as Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
- In the Know: Minister Piccini is transitioning from the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks. Piccini is renowned for his political acumen and no-nonsense approach to cutting bureaucratic red-tape. During his time at the Ministry of Environment he led a significant re-branding of the Ontario Parks system.
Stepping into this pivotal role, Minister Piccini has been entrusted by the Premier with the crucial task of preserving and building upon relationships that former Minister Monte McNaughton had established with labour unions across the province. These relationships played a pivotal role in delivering the PCs historic win, expanding their ‘big blue (collar) machine’ and aligning the government’s messaging around jobs creation, economic growth and addressing the cost of living. To a significant extent, this has reshaped and re-established the PC brand within the labour movement, a group historically aligned with the NDP.
Be on the lookout: For Minister Piccini to continue promoting the skills trade as a preferred career path for younger generations and Ontarians looking to retool. It’s also a safe bet that Minister Piccini’s Nova Scotia duck toller puppy, Max, will continue to attend government announcements.
- Andrea Khanjin will be replacing David Piccini (now Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development) as Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
- In the Know: Minister Khanjin has joined the front bench, bringing a wealth of experience from her previous roles as the Deputy House Leader and Parliamentary Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs. However, she does not come to the environment portfolio without prior experience, as she previously served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment in the previous mandate. She is a policy wonk at heart, with a staunchly conservative approach to reducing red-tape and ensuring policies positively benefit the day-to-day lives of Ontarians. Before entering politics, she served as a senior staffer in the Harper government, demonstrating a commitment to message discipline and advancing a legislative agenda. Khanjin’s inclusion at the cabinet table signals to the wider caucus that hard work pays off.
Be on the lookout: For Minister Khanjin to put her intergovernmental skills to work as the Province remains at ideological odds with the federal government’s approach to emissions reductions.
- Todd McCarthy will be replacing Kaleed Rasheed as Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery.
- In the Know: McCarthy, a lawyer and proficient stakeholder manager, is transitioning to a ministry often regarded as the “guts” of government – overseeing services ranging from Service Ontario to consumer protection to digital governance. This ministry manages regulations and policies that have a direct impact on the daily lives of Ontarians. Anticipate a close collaboration between the Ministry of Red Tape Reduction, the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and the Ministry of Finance moving forward on this file.
Be on the lookout: For Minister McCarthy to continue building on Minister Rasheed’s work in modernizing consumer protection and introducing more digital innovation into government services.
- Vijay Thanigasalam will be replacing Todd McCarthy (new Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery) as Associate Minister of Transportation.
- In the Know: Young and energetic, Associate Minister Thanigasalam has been appointed to represent a vital youth demographic and a key riding in the government’s strategy to secure another victory in the next election. He has gained recognition for his active presence on social media and his ability to connect with new Canadians settling in his constituency of Scarborough-Rouge Park.
Given the government’s emphasis on transit-oriented communities as a cornerstone of their housing strategy, collaboration between the City of Toronto and the province will be critical. Expect Thanigasalam to play a key role in these conversations.
Be on the lookout: For Minister Thanigasalam to provide regular updates on transit projects in the Greater Toronto area and an energetic optimism to promote major transit projects.
As always, with significant ministerial changes, staffing changes will follow. McMillan Vantage is uniquely positioned to deliver information on those changes when you need to know. The upcoming fall session presents risk and opportunity for the government and stakeholders alike. Times of change require sound advice to avoid missteps and present fresh opportunities to address issues that may have fallen off the government’s priority list.
To ensure that your organization is a step ahead of the competition, McMillan Vantage has the experience and sound counsel to provide you with direction, when you need to know. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.