Wynne cabinet shuffle done to boost election chances, says expert
By: Adriana Di Santo
A McMaster University political science professor said Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet shuffle is “pretty typical” ahead of a provincial election in June.
Wynne introduced not only three new cabinet members, but also reassigned five current members new roles on Wednesday.
“I think it’s a pretty typical cabinet shuffle in the events of an election when the Premier decides to shuffle out those who won’t be running again, for those who will be running,” Peter Graefe said.
The benefit of this is that it enables the people who she promotes to cabinet to have a higher profile in their riding, making it seem like they’re more important to their elector, which should help in their individual re-election efforts.
“It also enables her to freshen up the look of the cabinet when there’s a day of coverage about who these new people on cabinet are,” Graefe said.
One of the new members of Wynne’s cabinet is Kitchener-Centre MPP Daiene Vernile, who is now the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
“We had our first cabinet meeting this morning. And I have to say, it’s very similar to being in one of our weekly caucus meetings,” Vernile said. “When the legislature is sitting, our party meets every Tuesday afternoon for three hours so that’s all elected Liberals.”
Vernile, who worked as a journalist for CTV Kitchener for over three decades, explains that there’s many things to go over and that the Liberal Party is working on different pieces of legislation. She also said being in politics is much different than her other work.
“When you’re in cabinet, it’s a smaller group of people and you’re talking at a more advanced level,” Vernile said. “It’s more of a strategic angle on the direction we’re going on, but it felt very comfortable to be with my colleagues and I received a very warm welcome this morning at my first cabinet meeting.
“My job is to ensure that all of the different groups and individuals who are connected to areas of culture and sports and Ontario can continue doing what they’re doing.”
Graefe noted that one of the big moves Wynne made in introducing the revamped cabinet was the addition or shifting of several women, including but not limited to Vernile.
“It’s something that’s likely to benefit Kathleen, but I think it’s also more broadly in her choices that are doing things for her in the upcoming election,” he said.
“On one hand, she was able to remind people that she was willing to put women in significant cabinet positions, including ones with more economic location, such as Eleanor McMahon (MPP Burlington), which is a step forward from the tradition from Ontario and other provinces not having as many women in cabinet let alone an economic role.”
One of the other new cabinet members is Nathalie Des Rosiers, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier. Graefe said having an Ottawa-area MPP should be beneficial for her campaign.
“Having [Des Rosiers] as a fourth cabinet minister from Ottawa is significant in terms of trying to reinforce the Liberals fortunes in Ottawa, where the Conservatives are really likely to run a good campaign,” he said. “Having a second French opposing cabinet member will repeal to the Franco-Ontarian electorate, which has traditionally been Liberal, but in Eastern Ontario can go Conservative or NDP.”