by SUSAN MANN
Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal is the new agriculture, food and rural affairs minister as the government announced Tuesday it is rejoining the two ministries.
Previously Premier Kathleen Wynne was agriculture and food minister while Leal was rural affairs minister. The ministers were sworn in Tuesday at a ceremony at Queen’s Park after the Liberals won a majority in the June 12 election by capturing 58 of the 107 seats in the legislature.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales says Leal is already familiar with both the rural affairs and agricultural file “which will help” with their efforts to address important matters affecting farming in Ontario.
Wales adds he didn’t think Wynne would do a major cabinet shuffle “but I see it looks like this is quite a major shuffle.”
Some of the other ministries that affect the agriculture and food industries include economic development, employment and infrastructure where Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid, former training, colleges and universities minister, has been named minister. The federation says in its June 24 press release it will be working with Duguid on the Liberal’s promise to expand natural gas infrastructure across rural Ontario.
Meanwhile, Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray moves from transportation to the renamed ministry of environment and climate change, while Vaughan MPP Steven Del Duca is the new transportation minister and Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro is minister of the newly named natural resources and forestry ministry. Richmond Hill MPP Reza Moridi is research and innovation minister and is also heading up the training, colleges and universities ministry while former agriculture minister Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, is the new municipal affairs and housing minister.
The federation’s release says McMeekin will be leading reviews of the Greenbelt, Oak Ridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment plans. The federation plans to be at the table during the reviews to ensure the “farming and food businesses remain sustainable within those land-use designated areas.”
Staying on as finance minister is Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa, while Bob Chiarelli, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, remains as energy minister and Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn stays on as labour minister.
Wales says they know most of the ministers personally already “so that always helps.” BF