Mini-Cabinet Shuffle Strong Evidence That This Election Is Kathleen Wynne’s Last

By Josh Lieblein

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m probably the least confident person in Ontario that Patrick Brown will be our next Premier.

Though I do hold out hope for a PC government (honest!), I can’t overlook Kathleen Wynne’s ability to keep resurrecting herself or ignore how Ontarians seem wedded to the notion that she’s the the devil they know.

So when I say that win, lose, or draw, Kathleen Wynne is a spent political force who will step down after June’s go-round, I think my bearishness on Brown gives that particular prediction a little extra weight.

Lost in the speculation over today’s Liberal cabinet shuffle — which is, to be sure, slapping a new coat of red paint on a very old car — is once Wynne moves relatively new MPPs into ministerial roles and retiring/more seasoned MPPs out, that just puts more focus on how long she’s been in politics.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Of the 56 Liberals currently at Queen’s Park, Wynne is one of 11 who were elected in 2003 and, as of this writing, have not called it quits. (The other 10 are Vic Dhillon, Shafiq Qaadri, Harinder Takhar, Bob Delaney, Lou Rinaldi, Kevin Flynn, Jeff Leal, Lorenzo Berardinetti, Bill Mauro, and David Zimmer).

Of those 11, she and 4 others (Rinaldi, Berardinetti, Leal, and Zimmer) appear as confirmed candidates on the Ontario Liberal Party website.  Only 5 Liberals have been at QP longer than her, and of those 5 only one — Ted McMeekin — is a confirmed candidate for June’s election. Both McMeekin and Jim Bradley — who’s served since 1977 — were dropped from cabinet in this shuffle, leaving only Bob Chiarelli and Michael Gravelle on the inside. The fifth member of this long-serving group is Michael Colle, who hasn’t been close to cabinet since he was tarred with the Cricket Club Scandal.

I don’t mean to disrespect my elders, but the sands of time have been pouring against Kathleen Wynne and what’s left of her Class of 2003 for quite a while now, and there are fewer and fewer Liberals who make her look like a fresh face by comparison.

It takes a long, long time for Liberals to reach the level of duplicity that qualifies them to lead the party — just ask Steven Del Duca or Yasir Naqvi — but even by this abominably slow standard there is small chance Wynne will still have a credible claim to lead in 2022 even if she ekes out a win here.

And as it happens, this isn’t the first time the Ontario Liberals have cleared the decks of political toxic waste. Once one-time perennial contender Chris Bentley opened his big mouth about the gas plant scandal, he and a bunch of Dalton McGuinty holdovers such as Dwight Duncan, John Milloy, Greg Sorbara and McGuinty himself had to get flushed to clear the smell away. Of course this time we don’t have a cabinet minister going rogue, so the process is a bit more orderly and subtle.

One way or another, we will be in a no Wynne scenario before the 43rd general election.


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