A fresh face or simply shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic?
Those were the two narratives being offered-up by journalists, on Monday, following Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne's swearing-in ceremony and the formal announcement of her new cabinet.
Wynne's 27 member 'front bench' includes 10 rookie ministers in an apparent attempt to distance herself from the tarnished McGuinty legacy.
As expected, however, the the most coveted cabinet post went to veteran MPP and former leadership contender Charles Sousa.
Sousa, a former banking executive, is the province's new finance minister. While the post is the most high-profile, it won't be an easy job. Sousa will have to tackle the country's worst debt-to-GDP Ratio and the second highest per-capita debt burden.
If the finance ministry is the toughest portfolio, then the education file is 1a. Liz Sandals will be the new education minister and the one is charge of making peace with teachers after months of contentious debate over Bill 115 — the legislation that imposed contracts on about 130,000 public school teachers.
Sandals has experience in the education realm — she was once president of the Ontario School Boards Association.
[ Related: Will Ontario Liberals see a shakeup under Wynne? ]
While Sousa and Sandals were the winners in the cabinet shuffle, Laurel Broten and Harinder Takhar were the clear losers.
Broten, who supported runner-up Sandra Pupatello in the leadership race, gets demoted from the education portfolio to intergovernmental affairs.
"[It's a] a stand-alone department because the premier usually handles all its major files personally," notes the Toronto Star.
Leadership contender Harinder Takhar, who ultimately threw his support behind Pupatello as well, keeps his old job as government services minister. Prior to last month's leadership race, however, many suggested that Takhar would prove to be the kingmaker in the race and be catapulted to the upper-echelons of cabinet. His decision to support Pupatello seems to have cost him.
CBC's Mike Crawley suggests that the new look cabinet, at the very least, might help stave off an early election.
"There was some feeling that Dalton McGuinty's cabinet was a little too aggressive in the way it wanted to take on the opposition," he said on CBC Radio.
"This new face that Kathleen Wynne has put on — her cabinet has a lot of new faces in it — perhaps we'll see a different tone. "
We'll find out if that's the case when the legislature resumes on February 19th.
Here's the full list of minsters:
Agriculture Minister: Kathleen Wynne
Finance Minister: Charles Sousa
Energy Minister: Bob Chiraelli
Education Minister: Liz Sandals
Minister of Training, colleges and Universities: Brad Duguid
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs: Laurel Broten
Minister of Community and Social Services: Ted McMeekin
Municipal Affairs and Housing and Chair of cabinet: Linda Jeffrey
Economic Development, Trade and Employment: Eric Hoskins
Minister of Infrastructure and Minister of Transportation: Glen Murray
Northern Development and Mines: Michael Gravel
Deputy premier/Health Minister: Deb Matthews
Environment Minister: Jim Bradley
Attorney General: John Gerretsen
Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister: Madeleine Meilleur
Government services Minister: Harinder Takhar
Government House Leader: John Milloy
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport: Michael Chan
Ministry of Rural Affairs: Jeff Leal
Minister of Natural Resources: David Orazietti
Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs: David Zimmer
Minister of Research and Innovation: Rezi Moridi
Minister of Labour: Ottawa's Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration: Michael Coteau
Minister of Consumer Services: Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services: Teresa Piruzza
Minister Responsible for Seniors: Mario Sergio
(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)
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