Will the latest cabinet shuffle at Queen’s Park be good news for Toronto? Probably not

Will the latest cabinet shuffle at Queen’s Park be good news for Toronto? Probably not

The chairs at Dalton McGuinty‘s big cabinet table were rearranged slightly yesterday, as he brought in two new men and moved some other ministers around after they left some egg on government faces. John Gerretsen, the minister responsible for the eco-fee fiasco, is being moved to the Ministry of Consumer Services (which is odd, considering it was consumers who were outraged about eco-fees). Rick Bartolucci has been bumped out of Community Safety and Corrections after all the hubbub over G20 police powers. Most interestingly, though, are the two newcomers: two former mayors of two major Canadian cities.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

In addition to shuffling some of his veterans, Mr. McGuinty added two former mayors to the mix. Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray and former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli, who both won Liberal by-elections earlier this year, were awarded posts as Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Infrastructure, respectively.

The latest cabinet shuffle, although modest, sends an internal message about accountability and the need for experienced hands who have proven themselves strong communicators, especially as Mr. McGuinty prepares for an election next year.

Chiarelli in particular is an interesting choice for infrastructure minister, given his history. He was responsible for pushing through Ottawa’s O-Train pilot project and its controversial expansion plans both as chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Region and later mayor of the amalgamated Ottawa. In an echo of the nastiness surrounding Transit City, the 2006 election in Ottawa was all about expanding light rail, an election that Chiarelli lost, while the winner was later accused of bribery.

So Ontario’s cabinet has not just a light-rail advocate, but a former big-city mayor whose job is to upgrade the province’s infrastructure. Could this spell an end to the fight between the city and the province over Transit City? Probably not. Chiarelli is new to the cabinet, and McGuinty clearly trusts Minister of Transportation Katherine Wynne and supports the smacking she’s been giving David Miller and Adam Giambrone.

• Ont. environment minister demoted in cabinet shuffle [CBC News]
• Cabinet shuffle sees Duguid focus on energy [Toronto Sun]
McGuinty’s shuffle puts fresh faces out front [Globe and Mail]