Politics gives power and then it takes away, sometimes to the politician next door.
It happened this week in Scarborough as Ontario’s new Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the names of her first cabinet.
Wynne made Tracy MacCharles, rookie MPP for Pickering-Scarborough East, her consumer affairs minister.
The post had belonged to Margarett Best, MPP for the adjacent Scarborough-Guildwood riding. Best had been in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet since she was first elected in 2007, taking on health promotion (later health promotion and sport) before consumer affairs.
Under Wynne, though, Best was out and MacCharles was in.
Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid stayed in cabinet but took a new post as minister of training, colleges and universities.
Its the fifth shuffle and seventh or eighth porfolio for Duguid, who joked, “I’m beginning to think by the time I’m done I’ll have have served in every portfolio in government.”
He said he saw his latest post “as a real opportunity to me to make a real impact for students and families.”
The rest of Scarborough’s all-Liberal roster of MPPs were assigned roles as parliamentary assistants for cabinet ministers.
Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong was named Duguid’s assistant.
“I have never seen a more engaged, energetic representative in government,” Duguid said of Wong, a public school trustee before she was elected to the legislature.
Wong has a special connection with young people, he added, “and I plan to tap into that big time.”
Wong, also a nursing professor before she was an MPP, said she’ll be pleased to share those experiences in her new role.
Asked if her new assignment suits her better than her previous one, parliamentary assistant for correctional services, Wong said she learned a lot from that portfolio.
“As a new working MPP, it’s important for us to have these experiences and opportunities,” she added.
“It doesn’t matter which portfolio you hold, you have to look at the whole province.”
Best, who could not be reached yesterday, was named parliamentary assistant for education.
Backbenchers Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest) and Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough-Rouge River) also were assigned assistant duties; Berardinetti in the attorney general’s office and Balkissoon in citizenship and immigration.
Duguid said he was thrilled to see MacCharles - a fellow graduate of Heron Park Public School - in cabinet.
“She brings a very thoughtful, measured approach to public policy,” he said.