Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Did politics keep Amrit Mangat out of the cabinet?

New Ontario Premier +Kathleen Wynne announced her new cabinet yesterday and Mississauga-Brampton South MPP Amrit Mangat remains on the back-benches. Mangat’s exclusion appears to have much to do with her support for Wynne opponents +Eric Hoskins and Sandra Pupatello at the recent Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention.

Wynne’s new cabinet represents a major overhaul and expansion of the executive, so it may be surprising to some that Mangat was not promoted. Wynne will have 27 MPs on her executive committee, including many who are serving for the first time.

Not surprisingly, most appointments went to allies of Wynne's during her fight to become Premier. All ten MPs who backed her candidacy are ministers, including Linda Jeffrey, the MPP for Brampton-Springdale. Jeffrey will become Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, a potentially important position for the Peel Region and the challenges the region is facing in the cost of housing. Jeffrey will also serve as chair of the Liberal cabinet.

Bravely endorsing Wynne before the leadership convention was not a pre-requisite for inclusion in the cabinet. All of Wynne’s announced opponents at the Liberal leadership convention who currently sit as MPPs, Charles Sousa (Mississauga South), +Eric Hoskins (Toronto-St. Paul), Glen Murray (Toronto-Centre), and Harinder Takhar (Mississauga-Erindale) will join Wynne’s cabinet.

All but Takhar actually received promotions. Sousa will become Finance Minister, Hoskins will be Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, and Murray will assume the infrastructure and transportation portfolios. Since none were seen as a likely winner at the Liberal leadership convention, their candidacies were likely motivated by bids to boost their visibility in order to garner cabinet promotions. Murray, Sousa and Hoskins played their political hands shrewdly, endorsing Wynne after dropping out of the race (Murray withdrew before the convention, while Sousa and Hopkins endorsed during the balloting). Takhar was the only opponent to endorse Pupatello and should count himself lucky to remain in cabinet.

Mangat was one of three MPPs who initially backed Hoskins’ candidacy for party leadership. Hoskins was eliminated on the first ballot, causing two of his backers,

Margarett Best (Scarborough-Guildwood) and Tracy MacCharles (Pickering-Scarborough East) to throw their support to Wynne. Mangat, though, endorsed Wynne’s biggest opponent, Sandra Pupatello. Best’s endorsement appears to be too little, too late, as she was demoted from outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet. MacCharles, though, received the consumer services portfolio.

Three other Peel Region MPPs who failed to back Wynne until late in the balloting (if ever), Pupatello supporter +Dipika Damerla (Mississauga East—Cooksville), and Gerard Kennedy supporters +Bob Delaney (Mississauga-Streetsville) and Vic Dhillon (Brampton West) will join Mangat on the back-benches. Dhillon & Mangat received Parliamentary Assistant appointments.

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