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In this edition: meet the new — and old — faces on cabinet, gearing up for education talks, the race for Speaker begins, MRG on the UCP race, politicos on the move
Happy Cabinet Day and TGIF. Welcome to a special edition of POLICORNER. The summer is officially on. What are you watching this summer? We’re all ears.
In this 10 minute read, meet the new — and old — faces on Doug Ford’s cabinet. Education talks rev up: we speak with the president of CUPE-OSBCU on what’s next. The race for Speaker begins. MRG is out of the UCP race before she got in. Plus, notable job moves on the Hill and at Queen’s Park.
There’s a new — and larger — Team Ford at Queen’s Park.
Supporters and staffers gathered en masse on the lawn of the Pink Palace to watch Premier Doug Ford unveil his remade frontbench — removing two veteran ministers and promoting six rookies. Here’s what came down:
Sylvia Jones becomes Deputy Premier and Minister of Health — replacing Christine Elliott in the job. Jones served as Solicitor General and led the provincial vaccine rollout. Replacing Jones in that portfolio is entrepreneur and rookie PC MPP Michael Kerzner.
Two veterans were dumped from the executive council. PC MPP Lisa MacLeod — a senior caucus member who served in Tourism and Social Services before that — was removed from cabinet. MacLeod says she is taking a leave “to address and improve my health.” “While temporarily taking a breather is not a decision I have taken lightly, it is the right one to make now,” she added.
Ross Romano is also out as a cabmin — he served as Minister of Government and Consumer Services. The department — now called Public and Business Services Delivery — will be headed by Kaleed Rasheed.
Most cabmins are staying put.
Peter Bethlenfalvy in Finance
Stephen Lecce in Education
Caroline Mulroney in Transportation and Francophone Affairs
Paul Calandra in LTC and as Government House Leader
Raymond Cho in Seniors
Steve Clark in Municipal Affairs
Doug Downey as Attorney General
Jill Dunlop in Colleges and Universities
Vic Fedeli in Economic Development and Trade
Merrilee Fullerton in Social Services
Monte McNaughton in Labour
David Piccini in Environment
Prabmeet Sarkaria as Treasury Board President
Kinga Surma in Infrastructure
Todd Smith in Energy
Lisa Thompson in Agriculture
Greg Rickford in Indigenous Affairs
Michael Tibollo as Associate Mental Health Minister
More newbies are joining cabinet. Second term MPP Michael Parsa will become the Associate Housing Minister. Michael Ford — the Premier’s nephew — becomes the Citizenship and Multiculturalism Minister. He’s taking over from Parm Gill (now the Minister of Red Tape Reduction). Graydon Smith becomes the Natural Resources and Forestry Minister. George Pirie becomes Mines Minister while Charmaine Williams becomes Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. Hamilton MPP Neil Lumsden — a former CFL player — is the new Tourism and Sport Minister.
Cabinet ministers are in line for a pay raise — they will get a $49,301 top-up on their $116,550 salary.
Opposition reaction trickled in: NDP caucus chair Jeff Burch said the party is “calling on Ford to direct this cabinet to stop the cuts and start solving the problems.” Green Party captain Mike Schreiner called the number of women on the larger cabinet — seven — “discouraging.” “Representation matters and all governments should strive for gender parity,” he said.
Protesters also gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park.
On another note: PC MPPs were all sworn in yesterday from inside the Legislature. With the slate of cabmins now official, Ford will soon appoint new PAs and recall the Legislature for a summer session to pass the budget.
Education unions gear up for negotiations as contracts set to expire
Ontario’s major education unions are gearing up for a fresh round of negotiations with the province — serving notice to bargain with contracts set to expire as early as the end of August.
One union has already had preliminary discussions with the province. CUPE's Ontario School Board Council of Union (OSBCU) — which represents 55,000 education workers — met with the province last Friday to discuss “the scope of central bargaining” ahead of the official start of negotiations. We first reported that a date was scheduled earlier last week.
Inside the meeting: Preliminary talks were held in Toronto and lasted for five hours. According to a union memo, government negotiators refused “to agree to anything” on the scope of bargaining until a new Education Minister was sworn in. “We thought it would be no-brainer for both parties — workers representatives and the bosses — to quickly accept the same central scope as last time,” the union told members.
We caught up with OSBCU president Laura Walton after her media avail at the Legislature. Walton says both sides “have exchanged calendar dates” for a second meeting. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
On where things stand: “We have had one meeting. We had thought that it was going to go fairly well. It seemed like a no brainer to us — the scope has been the same for the last eight years. However, the government was adamant that they would be unable to make any decisions until there was a cabinet in place. We have shared our blackout periods — there is only one week where we have a shutdown to allow for our staff to have some semblance of a summer holiday. Other than that, we are free to meet with them all summer long.”
On the tone of the meeting: “The government was not willing to discuss anything, citing that they didn't have a cabinet in, which is extraordinary to us because what we were talking about wouldn't require a mandate letter or ministerial approval. It was the scope document that speaks to what topics get discussed at the central table and what topics get discussed at the local table. The other thing that they wanted to continuously discuss were ground rules. We told them that we were not interested in a media blackout and that it was important for us to be able to communicate to our members and to the public about what was going on.”
The biggest issues for the union: “The union is just an extension of the workers. For the education workers we represent, the biggest issues right now are wages and service security.”
On what “fair negotiations” look like to Walton: “I think first and foremost, fair negotiations happen at a bargaining table. Right? They do not happen by passing legislation that impacts the ability to have open and fair negotiations.
I also think it is coming in and having a discussion and taking a look. These are the folks that were on-site during the pandemic. The folks that he called ‘heroes.’ It’s time that we get in and we take a look at the unique circumstances facing education workers and address those.”
On Walton’s relationship with the Education Minister: “My relationship with Minister Lecce has been almost non existent. I met him once and had one phone conversation with him. He did not see the need — which is unfortunate — to have any sort of conversation with education workers as we were heading through the pandemic. I'm hoping [Minister Lecce] starts with the idea that we need to work together. In order to ensure that the public has the best publicly funded and delivered education system, it requires collaboration with frontline workers.”
On potential job action: “Strikes don't happen by just the union. Strikes happen when there is an impasse at the bargaining table. We haven't even exchanged proposals and we don't know what's on the table. I'm in no place to have that sort of conversation without knowing what's actually going to be on the table and what's being presented. I think there is a long way to go before any sort of discussions about strikes or lockouts can happen. We need to get to the table and have good discussions.”
The Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for comment.
The race for the Speaker of the Legislature is shaping up. PC MPP Ted Arnott confirmed to newsBeyond that he informed MPPs that he is “interested and willing to serve as Speaker again.” Caucus mate Nina Tangri — who was dropped from cabinet — informed Premier Doug Ford of her decision to run for Speaker. “She is well liked in caucus. Not surprised,” a Tory insider texted us.
Outgoing NDP captain Andrea Horwath says she is “not ready” to make any announcements on a possible mayoral bid in Hamilton after incumbent Fred Eisenberger announced that he will not seek another term and endorsed a possible Horwath bid. “My heart is always in Hamilton,” Horwath said in a statement on the speculation.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner will not seek the leadership of the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Rempel Garner said there is a “significant level of hurt and uncertainty” in the party caucus and that the leader will need to restore trust within a year and before the next election.
Assembly of First Nations National (AFN) Chief RoseAnne Archibald has been suspended without pay after Archibald spoke out against alleged corruption and collusion within the assembly.
ON THE MOVE
Here are some notable job moves on Parliament Hill and at Queen’s Park:
NDP MPP Jeff Burch is now the party caucus chair. Burch is the member from Niagara Centre and served as the NDP’s municipal affairs critic.
Multiple senior NDPers are exiting Queen’s Park. Karla Webber-Gallagher is leaving the OLO where she served as Principal Secretary. Community Engagement Director Jennifer Yin Barrett and Digital Communications Director Jared Walker are also departing.
Christine McMillan has returned to Crestview Strategy as a partner after taking a leave of absence to serve as the Liberal campaign manager.
The Green Party of Canada has appointed two new deputy leaders: Angela Davison and Luc Joli-Coeur. Davidson is an Indigenous advocate who opposed the cutting of ancient forests on Vancouver Island. Joli-Coeur is an urban planner who was a political adviser in the Quebec government.
Former Conservative MP and Mississauga Board of Trade VP Brad Butt has thrown his hat into the ring for a seat on the Mississauga City Council. Former Liberal MPP Glen Murray is running for Mayor of Winnipeg.
Two press secretaries have bid adieu to the Pink Palace. Green Party Press Secretary Darren Elias and Regional Press Secretary for the Ontario Liberal Party Will Wuehr have both departed following the election.
Are you a politico on the move? We want to hear from you. Drop us a line.
WHAT WE’RE READING
CBC NEWS: “U.S. Supreme Court overturns protections for abortion set out in Roe v. Wade” by Mark Gollom and Chris Iorfida
GLOBAL NEWS: “‘We need answers’: Men detained in bogus Parliament Hill bomb threat demand apology” by Alex Boutilier, Mercedes Stephenson and Marc-André Cossette
TVO.org: “It’s time for the Ontario Greens to ask themselves some hard questions” by Steve Paikin
NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW: “Considering a bid for Ontario NDP leadership, Gates says party needs to reconnect with working-class voters” by Ray Spiteri
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: What college did Health Minister Sylvia Jones attend and what did she specialize in? Send you answer to firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this email.