Ontario's new premier confident opposition will support budget
Ontario’s new premier, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, said she’s confident the budget she’ll create will win approval from the opposition parties.
Wynne was sworn into office Monday, making history as Ontario’s first female and openly gay premier.
In an address following the swearing in ceremony, Wynne promised that she and her cabinet would work to serve all Ontario residents and would not be bound by “artificial lines of division.”
She said that she looked forward to working with the opposition to address the issues facing Ontario, and that the parties could find common ground to avoid an early election.
The legislature is set to resume on Feb. 19.
She also promised to repair the relationship with Ontario’s public school teachers, which remains strained after the Liberals imposed two-year contracts on them that froze wages and cut benefits.
Wynne noted that mistakes had been made in the past, but promised to lead with transparency going forward.
“As your premier I will be open with you,” she said. “I know that we must acknowledge our mistakes, take responsibility for them and work together to guarantee that they are not repeated.”
The premier said reviving Ontario’s economy will be a major priority for the government, as the province works to become “a hub of innovation, industry and investment.”
At the end of her address, Wynne thanked her family and her partner.
“It is not lost on me that I am the first woman to be sworn into this office, and that I am doing so with the support of the woman I love,” she said. “I want to thank all of those who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of equality.”
Also on Monday, the ministers of Wynne’s newly appointed Cabinet took their oaths of office.
Wynne said her 27-member cabinet was slightly larger than the last, due to the “serious work that is confronting us.”
First to take the oath was returning Health Minister Deb Matthews, who was also named Deputy Premier.
Wynne selected 10 newcomers to make up her cabinet.
The new ministers include:
- Liz Sandals, Minister of Education
- Jeff Leal, Minister of Rural Affairs
- David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources
- David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
- Rezi Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation
- Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Labour
- Michael Coteau, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
- Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services
- Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services
- Mario Sergio, Minister Responsible for Seniors
Head of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation Ken Coran said he’s eager to start working with the new education minister.
“She’s very analytical. She’s a problem solver. She’s collaborative. She’s passionate about education, so we’re looking forward to opening a dialogue with her,” he said of Sandals.
Wynne also shuffled veteran cabinet ministers to new positions, including herself. In addition to premier, she will serve as minister of agriculture in a bid to raise the Liberals’ profile in Ontario’s rural ridings.
Laurel Broten, who, as Education Minister, imposed contracts on Ontario’s public school teachers in January, became the new minister of intergovernmental affairs.
Other Liberal cabinet ministers moved to new positions include:
- Charles Sousa, Finance Minister
- Bob Chiraelli, Energy Minister
- Brad Duguid, Minister of Training, colleges and Universities
- Ted McMeekin, Minister of Community and Social Services
- Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Chair of cabinet
- Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
- Glen Murray, Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation
- Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines
The following ministers will remain in their current positions:
- Health Minister Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier
- Environment Minister Jim Bradley
- Attorney General John Gerretsen
- Government services Minister Harinder Takhar
- Government House Leader John Milloy
- Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan
- Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Minister of Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur
As Wynne takes office, she will have a tough agenda ahead of her, including a $12-billion deficit.
Recently, the Liberals have been criticized for the politically-motivated cancellation of two gas plants. The cancellation of the gas plants is estimated to have cost taxpayers at least $230 million.
Following former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s resignation in October 2012, a number of high-profile Liberals have announced their departure from Queen’s Park, including Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Energy Minister Chris Bentley.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Paul Bliss and Scott Lightfoot and files from The Canadian Press