Ontario Premier-designate Doug Ford and his cabinet won’t be sworn-in until June 29, but lots of things are fast happening behind the scenes to make sure the government moves quickly on hot button issues like hydro.
And according to a recent post-election analysis by Navigator, a communications and strategic advice firm, that’s exactly what Ontarians expect.
As Ford’s transition team meets to set priorities and select cabinet members, his bench is loaded with talent, such as Vic Fedeli, Caroline Mulroney, Rod Philips, Christine Elliott, John Yakabuski and last, but not least, Lisa MacLeod, already dubbed the Nepean Queen.
The fact that three members of Ford’s transition team hail from Ottawa bodes well for locally- elected Tories. MacLeod told me she was pleased to see that Ford had chosen veteran political consultant Chris Froggatt to lead the team which also includes lifelong conservative Michael Coates and former provincial and federal minister John Baird, who happens to have been MacLeod’s predecessor as MPP.
Mississauga had its Hurricane in Hazel McCallion, who served 36 years as the longest-serving mayor there and likely all of Ontario and yielded powerful influence on both local and provincial politics. Now MacLeod, an MPP first elected in 2006, and not yet in cabinet, has suddenly emerged as Eastern Ontario’s ultimate power broker. She’s set to become Hurricane Lisa.
How else to explain the sudden and inexplicable move by former Liberal minister and Mayor Jim Watson to find money to study extending Ottawa’s new light-rail (still a work-in-progress) into MacLeod’s riding?
MacLeod, known for her tenacity in representing her constituents, tweeted approvingly “good move.” The Queen has spoken.
The Ottawa’s light-rail project into MacLeod’s riding was killed off in 2006 by then Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien and has never been seriously in the works since then. Instead of what was envisioned to be light rail in a tightly knit community was paved over and urban sprawl prevailed.
While MacLeod’s riding high these days, it wasn’t always the case. After losing a run at the PC’s leadership a few years back, she experienced mental health issues. In an interview with me she said it was an uphill battle to “beat the stigma,” but she was happy to have “crossed the finishing line.”
Anyone who’s experienced depression or seen it in family and friends knows how hard it is to bounce back. You can put a cast on a broken leg and expect full recovery in few months.
Recovering from depression is a long and bumpy road. Even with medication, it’s not a linear thing. Some never recover.
MacLeod’s resilience and strength of character allowed her to rebound. When I asked her whether she was eyeing the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as a cabinet position, she was coy, keeping her cards close to her chest.
Ford who has a comfortable majority with 76 out of 124 seats has promised a smaller cabinet. He will face a delicate balance in choosing between talent and geographical considerations. Toronto combined with the 905 belt have elected 32 MPPs while 11 seats were won in the East region. No one from the East region has ever been deputy Premier. That may be about to change, and no one would be better suited for that post than MacLeod.