Premier Doug Ford announces cabinet shuffle hours after third minister resigns in a month
Published Friday, September 22, 2023 8:45AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 22, 2023 3:40PM EDT
Premier Doug Ford is shuffling his cabinet for the second time in recent weeks after Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced Friday he is stepping away from politics to move into the private sector.
In a release hours after McNaughton announced his departure, Ford said David Piccini will move from his role as environment minister to fill the labour minister title.
MPP Andrea Khanjin will become the new environment minister, and will hold onto additional responsibilities as the deputy government house leader. Meanwhile, MPP Todd McCarthy will take over former Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery Kaleed Rasheed’s role, and Vijay Thanigasalam will become the associate minister of transportation.
McNaughton is the third minister to resign from Premier Doug Ford's cabinet this month, though he said his departure is not connected to the unfolding Greenbelt development scandal.
“I realize that recent events will cause some to speculate about the reasons for my departure. I want those people to know that my decision is completely unrelated to those events,” he said in a statement.
In his own statement, Ford thanked McNaughton for his service and lauded his accomplishments on the labour file.
“I’m very grateful for Monte’s work as a key member of our team, both as minister of infrastructure and, more recently, minister of labour, immigration, training, and skills development,” Ford said.
The high-profile resignation comes a day after Ford announced his government would reverse its controversial plans to carve up the province’s Greenbelt and develop housing.
In August, Ontario’s auditor general found that the decision-making process regarding the Greenbelt “favoured certain developers” whose 15 land sites on the protected green space could have seen a more than an $8.3 billion increase in value.
A separate report released later that month by Ontario’s integrity commissioner, J. David Wake, found Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark broke the Member’s Integrity Act and recommended he be reprimanded for his role in the Greenbelt development plans.
Clark resigned from his cabinet position on Sept. 4 and said he needed to “take accountability for what has transpired.”
On Wednesday, Ontario’s minister of public and business service delivery, Kaleed Rasheed, announced his resignation after his office said it mistakenly provided Wake with incorrect information about a 2020 trip to Las Vegas. CTV News Toronto reported earlier this week that during that trip the minister got massages at the same time as a developer whose land was later removed from the Greenbelt.
While Clark is still in the Progressive Conservative caucus, Rasheed will sit as an independent but will have an opportunity to return if the integrity commissioner clears him, Ford said.
In response to the latest resignation, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles said Ford's government is in "complete and utter disarray," calling the PCs "fractured after lurching from scandal to scandal."
The Ontario legislature is set to return for the fall sitting on Monday.
Elected in 2011, McNaughton serves as the MPP for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex and was appointed as infrastructure minister in 2018. He said he will be resigning his seat in the coming days and will not seek re-election.
McNaughton was assigned the labour file in 2019 and was “instrumental” in the Progressive Conservative government’s plan to put workers “at the centre of Ontario’s economy and unprecedented growth,” Ford said.