Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson named Minister of Education - July 5, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
On Friday morning, Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson was sworn in as the province’s Minister of Education under Premier Doug Ford.
Thompson has been an outspoken critic of rural school closures in recent years, an issue that has garnered the attention of many Huron-Bruce residents and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, to name a few.
On her Twitter account, Thompson said that she was proud to stand alongside her fellow MPPs while they were all sworn in at Queen’s Park and as a former 4-H member, she said she pledged to employ the “4 Hs [head, heart, hands and health]” in all that she does in her new post.
“We have an all-star team that’s ready now to give the people of Ontario the kind of leadership and direction they deserve,” Ford said in a press release. “For too long, the people of Ontario have worked more and paid more, but gotten less. Those days are over. Help is here.”
Now in her third term as Huron-Bruce MPP after defeating Liberal Carol Mitchell in the 2011 election, Thompson has served in several capacities in her time with the PC Party of Ontario.
She has been the PC Caucus Chair as well as serving as the PC Critic for international trade and Indigenous relations and reconciliation. She is a member of the Standing Committee on General Government and was selected by the Speaker of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly to represent Ontario on a steering committee for Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Canadian Region, for a three-year term.
During the lead-up to the election, Thompson’s name had been floated as a candidate to be the Minister of Agriculture when PC hopeful Ford had said that he wanted a farmer to serve as his Minister of Agriculture. She was unofficially shortlisted for the position alongside Monte McNaughton of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, Toby Barrett of Halidmand-Norfolk and Ernie Hardeman of Oxford County, who was named to the position on Friday.
With voter turnout at nearly a 20-year high, Thompson was declared the winner of her riding just 15 minutes after the polls closed on June 7 thanks to electronic ballot-reading technology. This came after party leader Doug Ford had already been declared the next Premier of Ontario with a majority government predicted.
Thompson received 27,646 votes, over 52 per cent of the riding’s votes, followed by Jan Johnstone of the NDP with 15,326, Don Matheson of the Liberals with 7,356, Nicholas Wendler of the Green Party with 1,804 votes, Ron Stephens of the Libertarian Party with 399 votes and Gerrie Huenemoerder of the Alliance Party of Ontario with 271 votes.
Voter turnout in Huron-Bruce came in at just over 65 per cent, which was higher than the provincial average.
Thompson’s new position and priorities going forward will be a flashpoint for Ontarians as Ford vowed to replace the controversial new sexual education program introduced by the Liberals in 2015.
According to The Globe and Mail, Ford said that parents felt “ignored” when the new curriculum was rolled out. Many educators felt that many of the changes reflected necessary changes that needed to be made to face the realities of the day. However, many faith groups thought the curriculum was age-inappropriate and felt that such intimate information should come from a child’s parents.
Meanwhile in her riding, Thompson spent some time at Lucknow’s Homecoming over the weekend and at Canada Day celebrations in Brockton.
At Queen’s Park, however, in a move rarely seen, Ford has committed to calling together the Legislature for a rare summer sitting the week of July 9 with the regular sitting to commence the following week.
Ford’s cabinet has been criticized by some for its perceived lack of diversity with only seven women and one visible minority holding positions. However, critics have also said that Ford’s cabinet has struck a balance rarely seen that includes representatives from all over the province and a balance of different sets of interests.
The rest of Ford’s cabinet is as follows: Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board; Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility; Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing; Christine Elliott, Deputy-Premier and Minister of Health and Long-term Care; Victor Fedeli, Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet; Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Sylvia Jones, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues; Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure; Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs; Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks; Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs; Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour; Todd Smith, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Government House Leader; Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services; Jim Wilson, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; John Yakabuski, Minister of Transportation and Jeff Yurke, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Thompson will serve as the government’s Minister of Education and Hardeman will serve as its Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, while Premier Ford himself will serve as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.