The Comment

Lecce, gone but not soon forgotten

TORONTO – Just like that, the [now former] Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce has been asked to take his political talents applied in education elsewhere. In a deft move underscored by timing and style, Premier Ford signalled that he too had had enough of the turmoil foisted on the province’s education system by ideological extremism. That, or as rumours would have it, Ford is preparing a “political face of government” more acceptable to the province’s citizenry.

Lecce is replaced by an experience MPP from Eastern Ontario, Todd Smith. The latter is a family man and former broadcaster. The public will learn more about him soon enough, especially as it pertains to how he and the government see the role of parents in the education of Ontario’s most prized asset – their children.

So far, so good: the new minister of Education was curiously or conveniently absent for the ceremonial swearing-in, which was held behind closed doors and announced as a fait accompli, late Thursday afternoon. Whether by design or by inconvenient coincidence is immaterial. The Cabinet Shuffle was a necessary cosmetic exercise to emphasize the gravitas required for recent return to basics initiatives. It was important to deliver that message without “rubbing it in” or placing undue pressure on the Minister now entrusted with delivering that agenda.

The reality is that during the mandate entrusted to Lecce, schools and school boards have succumbed to the influence of and control by elements who conflict with parents over what is best for our students and how to achieve what is best for children.

During that period, rarely a day has gone by – especially in the GTA – when school violence and mayhem are top of the news. It seems that school administrators are foregoing the opportunity to take on those duties; that teachers are looking for more salutary job opportunities; that student academic performance is plummeting (except in private religious schools); that the average daily enrolment (ADE) is decreasing at such a rate that not even the “unanticipated” rise in immigration has replaced the exodus. Very few of the province’s 72 school boards have escaped that infectious malaise. They have cause the revival of the rationale for charter schools.

Call me “old fashioned” but having the ousted minister and the replacement option together would have prompted detailed questions of accountability Lecce has not answered so far and a projected plan Minister Smith would have been unfairly and unprepared to answer.

Queen’s Park is always a political context. Some individuals exhibit “concern” better than others. It is an on-going struggle to find the right balance.

When the Premier escorted the “newly” sworn-in Cabinet Ministers, into the foyer of the Legislature; correction, all nineteen minus Minister Todd Smith who was at a previously assigned duty, he was trying to do just that.

Good luck to Minister Smith.

In the pic, Ford and Lecce: the photo is by Chris Young/

Premier Doug Ford’s new cabinet now includes the following ministers:

•Premier Doug Ford remains Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

•Sylvia Jones remains Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

•Peter Bethlenfalvy remains Minister of Finance

•Paul Calandra remains Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

•Raymond Cho remains Minister of Seniors and Accessibility

•Stan Cho becomes Minister of Tourism, Culture and Gaming, with responsibility for OLG

•Doug Downey remains Attorney General

•Jill Dunlop remains Minister of Colleges and Universities

•Vic Fedeli remains Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

•Rob Flack becomes Minister of Farming, Agriculture and Agribusiness

•Michael Ford remains Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism

•Mike Harris becomes Minister of Red Tape Reduction

•Michael Kerzner remains Solicitor General

•Andrea Khanjin remains Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

•Natalia Kusendova-Bashta becomes Minister of Long-Term Care

•Stephen Lecce becomes Minister of Energy and Electrification

•Neil Lumsden becomes Minister of Sport

•Todd McCarthy becomes Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery and Procurement, with responsibility for Supply Ontario

•Caroline Mulroney remains President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Francophone Affairs

•Michael Parsa remains Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

•David Piccini remains Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

•George Pirie remains Minister of Mines

•Greg Rickford becomes Minister of Indigenous Affairs and First Nations Economic Reconciliation and remains Minister of Northern Development

•Prabmeet Sarkaria remains Minister of Transportation

•Todd Smith becomes Minister of Education

•Graydon Smith becomes Minister of Natural Resources

•Kinga Surma remains Minister of Infrastructure

•Lisa Thompson becomes Minister of Rural Affairs

•Stephen Crawford becomes Associate Minister of Mines as part of the Ministry of Mines

•Trevor Jones becomes Associate Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Response as part of Treasury Board Secretariat

•Sam Oosterhoff becomes Associate Minister of Energy-Intensive Industries as part of the Ministry of Energy and Electrification

•Nolan Quinn becomes Associate Minister of Forestry as part of the Ministry of Natural Resources

•Nina Tangri remains Associate Minister of Small Business as part of the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

•Vijay Thanigasalam becomes Associate Minister of Housing as part of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

•Michael Tibollo remains Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions as part of the Ministry of Health

•Charmaine Williams remains Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity as part of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

In addition, outside of Cabinet, Steve Clark has been appointed Government House Leader.

More Articles by the Same Author: