‘Ottawa’ Attawapiskat chief expects ‘historic’ meeting with Trudeau
Ontario is to get a new provincial cabinet at 10:30 Monday morning, with Premier Kathleen Wynne announcing Sunday afternoon that she’ll present her new ministers then to be sworn in.
Wynne is seeking to put a fresh face on a Liberal government that’s running poorly in opinion polls at the halfway mark of her mandate. It’s been two years since the Liberals were re-elected with a majority government, and there are two years to go before the next scheduled election.
Four veteran ministers have publicly said they’ll go willingly. Ottawa’s Madeleine Meilleur is leaving politics entirely, relinquishing her post as attorney general. Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin said he’d leave the cabinet to make way for more women; the minister for seniors, Mario Sergio, also said he’d return to the back benches.
Sunday night, Jim Bradley, who was first in cabinet under David Peterson in the 1980s, announced that he’d leave his position as chair of cabinet — which has given him the rank of a minister without a specific portfolio — to become the chief government whip, making sure Liberal MPPs are where they’re supposed to be for votes in the legislature and in committee meetings.
That’s an important job but not a cabinet position. It’s been held by Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde, a rookie legislator who impressed Wynne quickly and is likely bound for a cabinet post.
Ottawa-West Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli has been a loyal energy minister but has also been a lightning rod for criticism from people unhappy with Ontario’s rising electricity prices.
He’s one of just a handful of lawyers in the Liberal caucus, which could be a factor as Wynne replaces Meilleur as attorney general; Wynne could move him there without it seeming like a demotion. Lalonde could pick up Meilleur’s secondary responsibility as minister of francophone affairs.
Yasir Naqvi has been the minister in charge of corrections and policing. On his watch, longstanding problems in Ontario’s jails have boiled over, culminating in Naqvi firing two superintendents and naming a task force to recommend major fixes to the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre in particular. He might stay there to see the work through, or be congratulated on a job well done and rescued with a move to a different portfolio.
Naqvi’s also a lawyer, though he specialized in international-trade law before politics.
Other Ottawa-area Liberal MPPs are Ottawa South’s John Fraser, who’s been the parliamentary assistant to Health Minister Eric Hoskins, and Glengarry-Prescott-Russell’s Grant Crack, who’s been the parliamentary assistant to Education Minister Liz Sandals. Very often when ministers get shuffled, so do parliamentary assistants.