Ontario Premier Doug Ford Announces Cabinet Shuffle Following Third Minister’s Resignation & Greenbelt Reversal
Posted: September 26, 2023
(September 25, 2023)
By: Weekly Voice
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has undertaken a cabinet shuffle for the second time in recent weeks following the resignation of Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, who is leaving politics to enter the private sector.
David Piccini will replace McNaughton as the new labour minister, while MPP Andrea Khanjin will assume the role of environment minister and also serve as the deputy government house leader. MPP Todd McCarthy will take over the role of former Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery Kaleed Rasheed, and Vijay Thanigasalam will become the associate minister of transportation.
Monte McNaughton is the third minister to resign from Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet in the same month. However, he clarified that his departure is unrelated to the Greenbelt development controversy that has been unfolding.
In a statement, McNaughton expressed that his decision to resign is entirely unrelated to recent events and developments. In response, Premier Ford expressed his gratitude for McNaughton’s service and recognized his contributions, both as minister of infrastructure and, more recently, as minister of labour, immigration, training, and skills development.
The announcement of McNaughton’s resignation comes on the heels of the government’s decision to reverse its contentious plan to develop the province’s Greenbelt, which was mired in controversy. The auditor general’s report highlighted a decision-making process that favored specific developers, potentially increasing the value of their land sites within the Greenbelt by over $8.3 billion. Additionally, Ontario’s integrity commissioner found that Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark had violated the Member’s Integrity Act, leading to his resignation.
Ontario’s minister of public and business service delivery, Kaleed Rasheed, also resigned after his office provided incorrect information about a 2020 trip to Las Vegas. In response to these developments, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles described the government as being in a state of disarray, highlighting a series of scandals and controversies.
The Ontario legislature is scheduled to reconvene for its fall session on Monday. Monte McNaughton, who has been an MPP since 2011, will resign his seat in the coming days and will not seek re-election. During his tenure, he played a significant role in the government’s focus on workers and economic growth in the province.
The Ontario Legislature is reconvening following a 15-week summer break, marked by a series of significant political developments, including the resignations of three cabinet ministers and the reversal of a contentious decision regarding Greenbelt lands.
The return to session follows the release of critical reports by the auditor general and integrity commissioner on the process of removing lands from the Greenbelt for housing development, which fueled public outrage.
Premier Doug Ford has acknowledged the mistake in opening up Greenbelt lands for development, but opposition politicians remain unsatisfied and seek answers regarding what developers, the premier, and his staff knew in advance of the official announcement. The recent resignation of the director of housing policy and references to deleted emails have raised further questions.
Despite Ford’s backtrack, the controversy lingers, with the opposition demanding transparency and accountability. Marit Stiles, NDP Leader, emphasizes the need for answers to the lingering questions.
The situation casts a shadow over the government’s actions in other areas, such as healthcare privatization and the lease of Ontario Place. While tensions persist, politicians and the public will continue to scrutinize the government’s actions.
Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser expects ongoing scrutiny, though it may take time to obtain answers on Greenbelt-related inquiries. He also emphasizes the importance of addressing key issues like housing, healthcare, education, and the environment.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner underscores the ongoing housing affordability crisis and advocates for solutions that do not involve prime farmland or benefit developers disproportionately.
The auditor general’s report revealed that the removal of land from the Greenbelt stood to increase land values by $8.3 billion for landowners affected, but it remains unclear if they will pursue any recourse against the government.
Both the auditor general and integrity commissioner identified a rushed and biased land selection process that favored specific developers. The departures of two cabinet ministers further highlight the turmoil faced by Ford’s government.
Despite the challenges, the government proceeds with a mini cabinet shuffle, aiming to fill vacant ministerial positions. Opposition politicians and the Ontario Health Coalition have plans to express their concerns and demands at the legislature.