Ontario Cabinet Shuffle: Lecce Out of Education, Clark Back as House Leader

Ontario Cabinet Shuffle: Lecce Out of Education, Clark Back as House Leader

Major Changes in Ontario’s Cabinet

Long-time Education Minister Stephen Lecce is moving to the energy portfolio, and former Housing Minister Steve Clark is back in a late-day provincial cabinet shuffle on Thursday.

Key Appointments

  • Stephen Lecce: Lecce, who has been Education Minister since 2019, will now head the Ministry of Energy and Electrification, swapping roles with MPP Todd Smith, who becomes the new Minister of Education.
  • Steve Clark: Clark has been appointed the Government House Leader. He resigned in September after a scathing report from the province’s integrity commissioner found he violated ethics rules when Ontario opened up parts of the protected Greenbelt for development.

Lecce’s New Role

Lecce, who often clashed with teachers’ unions during his tenure, expressed his honor in serving as Education Minister but is now excited to lead the re-titled Ministry of Energy and Electrification.

“In order to grow the economy, with millions of people coming to our shores and significant industry moving to Ontario, including the fact that under our previous leadership, we’ve put (Ontario) on the map as one of the primary destinations for EV construction,” Lecce said Thursday. “We need a significant supply of affordable, reliable energy for the people of Ontario. We will build the energy capacity we will need to supply the energy to grow our economy.”

Other Notable Changes

  • Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Rookie MPP Kusendova-Bashta moves from the backbenches to become the Minister of Long-Term Care, taking over from Stan Cho.
  • Stan Cho: Cho will be the new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Gaming with responsibility for OLG.
  • Neil Lumsden: Lumsden, who has been minister of tourism, culture, and sport since 2022, will now simply be minister of sport.
  • Mike Harris: The son of the former premier, Harris takes over the Red Tape Reduction portfolio.

New Associate Ministers

Several new associate minister positions have been created, and some ministries, such as Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, have been split into two.

Premier Ford’s Statement

In a release, Premier Ford said:

“As our province and economy continue to grow, this is the team that is working side-by-side with workers, businesses, labor partners, Indigenous leaders, and every member of Team Ontario to rebuild our economy.”

Opposition Reactions

NDP Leader Marit Stiles

Stiles criticized the cabinet shuffle, stating:

“Playing musical chairs at the cabinet table isn’t going to fix this mess. We now have the most bloated cabinet in the history of Ontario, with the biggest premier’s office, the biggest deficit, and people are struggling more than they ever have before.”

Stiles also expressed concern over Clark’s return:

“It’s deeply concerning. Let’s not forget that this was a minister who resigned in disgrace because of his central role in the government and Doug Ford’s Greenbelt corruption scandal and now he’s going to be put in charge of it with pretty enormous responsibility.”

Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie

Crombie criticized Ford’s cabinet choices, including giving Clark more responsibilities and not promoting enough women:

“Doug Ford is keeping his friends close, and his cronies even closer. He’s created the biggest cabinet in history – using your money – and he only included nine women.”

Full List of Changes

  • Steve Clark: Government House Leader
  • Todd Smith: Minister of Education
  • Stephen Lecce: Minister of Energy and Electrification
  • Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: Minister of Long-Term Care
  • Todd McCarthy: Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery and Procurement, with responsibility for Supply Ontario
  • Greg Rickford: Minister of Indigenous Affairs and First Nations Economic Reconciliation
  • Stan Cho: Minister of Tourism, Culture and Gaming
  • Graydon Smith: Minister of Natural Resources
  • Neil Lumsden: Minister of Sport
  • Lisa Thompson: Minister of Rural Affairs
  • Mike Harris: Minister of Red Tape Reduction

The moves bring the size of the cabinet to 36 people, the largest in Ontario’s political history.

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