There is now one minister at Queen’s Park with a lot of power over northern Ontario. Northern Development, mines, natural resources, forestry and Indigenous affairs were all merged into the portfolio of Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford in last week’s cabinet shuffle.
“Look forward to an extraordinary opportunity to consolidate a number of ministries or parts of ministries into one to advance the real economic interests of all of northern Ontario,” the minister said in an interview with CBC Thunder Bay.
This isn’t the first time the so-called “northern ministries” have been put together. It was known as the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Mines until 1919 when it was split in two.
They were merged together under the banner of natural resources in 1972 and broke up again in 1977 into natural resources and northern affairs. Then in 1995, PC Premier Mike Harris, who hailed from the north, merged them into one ministry for two years, but then separated them again.
That’s when southern Ontario MPP John Snobelen was named minister of natural resources. He says these cabinet moves often have more to do with personality than policy.