Northern cabinet ministers not stars, but can be effective – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – February 13, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It’s hard to get excited about the northern representation in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s new cabinet. Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle returns to the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, while Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti takes over at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The only other two Liberals in Northern Ontario are Sudbury’s Rick Bartolucci, who has stepped down from his MNDM cabinet post pending his retirement in the next election, and Thunder Bay-Atikokan’s Bill Mauro, who has served as chair of the Northern Caucus and parliamentary assistant to Bartolucci during his first stint as minister at MNDM.

Bartolucci brought a lot of provincial investment into Sudbury — but now the city is without a cabinet minster for the first time since 2003.

What of the North’s two ministers? While Orazietti, at 44, has potential, there are no bona fide stars here.

First elected in 1995, Gravelle, who is battling a treatable form of lymphoma, is known for updating the Mining Act during his last tenure at MNDM (which also included forestry), from 2007 to 2011. That act met with mixed reviews. It stipulated that no new mine could open in the Far North without an approved community-based land use plan and that aboriginal communities must be notified of claims staking after their land is staked, a decision that continues to rankle First Nations bands.

(He did not introduce the Far North Act. That was the purview of Bramptonarea MPP Linda Jeffrey when she ran Natural Resources.) After the last election, Gravelle moved to Natural Resources, during which time the responsibility for looking after nuisance bears was downloaded to local police services.

Orazietti takes over Natural Resources in his first stint in cabinet, but he spent his time in the backbenches introducing legislation that would see cellphone companies include more information on their bills, allowing agencies such as hospitals to issue an apology to patients without legal ramifications, and banning smoking in cars with children under 16.

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