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Barbenheimer and a big shuffle
Fresh faces on the Hill and the inside gossip on Omar's next move
Queen's Park is weighing in on the summer blockbuster double feature making big bucks and big buzz. But first — some fresh faces on the Hill and the inside gossip on the next move of one heavyweight Liberal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejiggred his front bench this morning — dropping seven veterans and promoting seven rookies, while reassigning the majority of ministers.
"Our priority is now economic recovery," said one federal Grit insider on the overhaul. The substantial shuffle is privately viewed as a shoring up of cabinet ahead of the next federal election, though insiders aren't holding their breaths on an imminent call — or one in the distant future. "[Trudeau] needs to know who's in it for the long term," one source texted.
It's all about political play. Trudeau dumped cabmins who hail from safe Liberal land while elevating rookies in battleground ridings mostly held provincially by Doug Ford's Tories. These are the seats that the federal Conservatives will seek to flip in an attempt to dethrone the governing Grits.
Here are some notable moves — and some familiar faces making an exit:
Anita Anand — often floated amongst Liberal circles as a potential successor to Trudeau — is President of the Treasury Board. "Siberia," quipped one Grit source. "Anything that happens to Anita is about Trudeau's office reigning in on her leadership aspirations," the source added. Bill Blair is now heading National Defense with Harjit Sajjan replacing him in Emergency Preparedness. Ajax's Mark Holland is Health Minister. Karina Gould — who navigated Ottawa during provincial child care talks — will replace Holland as Government House Leader.
Mary Ng — was found to have broken federal ethics rules by awarding a government contract to a friend — is staying in cabinet as International Trade and Economic Development Minister. Ahmed Hussen is International Development Minister while Sean Fraser — viewed as a rising star in Trudeau's cabinet — will head up Housing and Infrastructure.
"Liberals can't win without keeping fortress Toronto together," a senior Liberal said. "Injection of fresh blood will provide bolt energy to a government that needs it," the source added. Three fresh faces from the GTA are jumping in, including Arif Virani as Attorney General and Justice Minister. Ya'ara Saks will head up Mental Health and Addictions and Gary Anandasangaree will take over Crown-Indigenous Relations.
Streetsville's Rechie Valdez is Small Business Minister and Kanata's Jenna Sudds will take over the Families portfolio.
Who's out: Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino is returning to the backbenches. Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra are also out and will quit federal politics when their term expires.
Behind the scenes, Liberal circles are already buzzing about Alghabra's political future after the veteran Grit announced his decision to bid adieu to Ottawa. "Omar is classy as always. His voice will be missed around the cabinet table," texted one insider. "He's going out on his own terms," they said. "He was a key player in Trudeau's leadership bid and earned his way into cabinet by doing meaningful work on consular affairs and international trade."
Alghabra's name is being floated as a potential successor to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, if she seizes the provincial Grit leadership in December. "Why else?" texted another source, questioning the veteran’s decision to not run again.
Poilievre's official word: "The Minister that really needs to be shuffled out is Justin Trudeau," said federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre. "His record is one of failure and he is shuffling nearly his entire cabinet in a desperate attempt to distract from all that he has broken."
Barbenheimer: Queen's Park weighs in
It's the blockbuster doubleheader of a pink comedy and cold aged biopic generating big bucks and big buzz — and now Queen's Park is taking sides.
We asked key players around the Pink Palace which movie they've seen or plan to watch and if they have a favourite of the two summer films: Oppenheimer or Barbie. Here's what we heard:
— Team Barbie: "Barbie, of course," said NDP captain Marit Stiles. "But no spoilers, please — my daughters and I won't be able to see it until after Thursday's byelections."
The NDP took a spin on the pink Barbie show bill. "I can also confirm that most of the Ontario NDP communications team have also already seen Barbie," a spokesperson told us.
Liberal Yasir Naqvi will be seeing Barbie soon with his daughter, his team said.
— Team Oppenheimer: The biopic is getting support across party lines.
Liberal Stephen Blais celebrated his birthday last week by seeing Oppenheimer with his family. "I am a history buff," Blais said. "Our teenage son is quickly becoming one as well, so it was a natural fit for us." Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says she'll be watching Oppenheimer. "I love a biopic," she told us.
"I will be heading to a theatre to see Oppenheimer (hello Matt Damon) — historically significant and no pink heels," NDPer Catherine Fife said. "Whoever invented high heels needed to wear them All. The. Time." Bhutila Karpoche, like Fife, is going to see the movie. "I'm into biopics."
Global News' Colin D'Mello is also on Team Oppenheimer.
— Team Barbenheimer: "I have read the reviews for both movies, and my wife Lisa and I hope to see both while they're still in the theatres. Maybe one after the other," Speaker Ted Arnott said.
"I'm a history buff, so Oppenheimer is a must for me," Green captain Mike Schreiner told us, saying that he's "excited to see what Greta Gerwig does with the Barbie story." "From the trailers, it looks like it’s going to be a good antidote to Oppenheimer’s existential underpinnings. Also, Barbies found their way into my daughters' toy chest, and I'm curious to see if any of their imaginative uses of Barbie made it into Gerwig's portrayal."
"I'll be seeing Oppenheimer this week for sure," PC MPP Goldie Ghamari said. "I'll probably go see the Barbie movie with my sister in a few weeks because I have many fond childhood memories of my sister and I playing Barbie together."
"I've seen both. Both were great," the Trillium's Charlie Pinkerton responded. "They're too dissimilar of movies to pick between. I will add though that 'I'm Just Ken' might be the greatest musical number in film history."
The Narwhal's Emma McIntosh also saw both. "I really, truly have not been able to pick a favourite. Oppenheimer was incredible, Barbie was splendid," she said. "I flip flop on which one I prefer every time I think about it!"
The Globe's Laura Stone hasn't seen either but she's planning to see both. "Barbie first probably, then Oppenheimer. Not on the same day!" she told us.
Grit Ted Hsu said he "probably won't be watching any movies until after November" but is planning to see both. "It's great to see so many Ontarians experiencing the excitement of a blockbuster double feature," he said.
Stephanie Bowman is also on Team Barbenheimer. "Why choose between two incredible films? My son is a film buff who studied media and movies and we love watching movies as a family," she said.
"I remember the Christmas I got Barbie Airplane as a gift — that was a big deal and my daughter remembers getting her first Barbie doll for a birthday gift from her aunt," Bowman said. "Afterwards, we’ll be watching Oppenheimer. I grew up during the Cold War era and remember hearing news reports about the fear of nuclear war," she added, noting that Christopher Nolan is one of her son's favourite directors. "The marketing of both films as a cultural phenomenon is really interesting, too — how they have brought together people of all ages to re-experience, for many, a vital part of their childhood."
— TBD: Liberal Adil Shamji has been touring northern Ontario and "didn't get a chance to really get acquainted with the phenomenon in the first place." "I'll have to consult my wife to figure out which we'll watch," Shamji said. "It's likely we'll wait to decide until we can watch from home with our pup, Petunia."
— I'll pass: "Unfortunately I probably won't see either movie," independent Bobbi Ann Brady said, telling us she's heard Barbie is good. "I will take the word of others for now," she added. "I'm using my dog days of summer nights to get caught up on my reading stack."
CUPE's Fred Hahn said he'd love to see Barbie because "it seems to be the target of right wing haters," but doesn't plan on going to the cinema anytime soon. "I can't go to a movie while actors and writers are on picket lines," Hahn explained. "I know they have encouraged folks to go — but at the end of the day it's about my gut feeling," he added.
The Ford government has tapped Ernst & Young to probe civic finances in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon and Newmarket. The audits will "help provide a clear and shared understanding of the impacts of changes to development-related fees and charges." The Star has the story.
Premier Doug Ford and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer have signed a "memorandum of understanding" to "support joint initiatives in priority areas, such as electric vehicles and related supply chains."
The province will launch a "Procurement Cooperation Council" with Michigan to support an "open dialogue on government procurement," according to Ford's office.
ICYMI: The race for Grit captain has been called. Catch up on our scoop — including an email to card carrying Liberals and the voting sched.
AT THE PALACE
— The House is adjourned for the summer.
— There are no committee meetings scheduled until September.
— In memoriam: Queen's Park is mourning Monte Kwinter. The longtime Liberal rep for York Centre and former cabinet minister, who was the Legislature's oldest member, died "peacefully" last Friday.
His "commitment to — and passion for — serving others cannot be overstated," wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "He was just a decent, fair man who wanted to make life better in Ontario," eulogized former Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton. "Monte’s legacy will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to public service and tireless efforts to improve the lives of his constituents and all those who call Ontario home," said interim Grit captain John Fraser. "Monte was a decent and kind man that loved his family and his province," wrote Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. Read more about Kwinter.
ON THE MOVE
Dave Forestell is the new Chair of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Forestell previously served as Chair of iGaming Ontario.
Marit Stiles has unveiled her inner circle as the top NDPer — naming several familiar faces at Queen's Park to senior leadership positions.
Chief of Staff: Greg Denton
Principal Secretary to the Leader: Stephanie Nakitsas
Senior Advisor: Dave Clark
Director of Research: Marzian Alam
Director of Legislative Affairs: Jasmine Attfield
Director of Tour: Angela Daeun Bae
Director of Outreach and External Relations: Samiha Rayeda
Director of Communications: Jason Wagar
Director of Human Resources and Operations: Nivine Zaher
WHAT WE'RE READING
THE STAR: "Pierre Poilievre defends paying legal fees for ‘courageous’ whistleblower who took down rival Patrick Brown" by Stephanie Levitz
TVO: "With Nate Erskine-Smith’s climate announcement, the Liberal leadership race just got interesting" by John Michael McGrath
THE TRILLIUM: "Now-housing policy director for Premier Ford also went to Vegas with Greenbelt developer: sources" by Charlie Pinkerton
"Global News defends reporting in Vincent Ke suit as 'matter of utmost public interest'" by Jessica Smith Cross
CBS: "UFO hearing key takeaways: What a whistleblower told Congress about UAP" by Stefan Becket
THE SUN: "Ontario orders review of school training after principal dies" by Brian Lilley
CBC NEWS: "Here's how each Ontario city is doing on hitting provincial targets for building new homes" by Mike Crawley
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