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Rickford to head three cabinet portfolios

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Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford will be responsible for three portfolios in Premier Doug Ford's cabinet after being named the minister for energy, northern development and mines, and indigenous affairs.

He was sworn in Friday morning along with the 20 other members of cabinet, which is down eight ministers from the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne.

Rickford remains critical of how the previous government had three different ministers presiding over each of each of his portfolios, noting part of having a smaller cabinet is in line with the Progressive Conservative party's goal of shrinking the size of government.

“We ran a campaign on respecting taxpayers' dollars," he said in an interview with the Times on Monday. ”And we believe that the decisions the previous government [made] with respect to cabinet were much like there other policies: excessive.

“So I think that we have a great opportunity to do things differently,” Rickford added.

“Just because the previous government had 30 cabinet [portfolios] doesn't make it right.”

Rickford noted energy and northern development and mines are strongly connected and often combined as one ministry both federally and in other provinces across Canada.

“Generally speaking, most other provinces and the federal government would at least have energy and northern mines and development paired together,” he remarked.

Rickford also cited recent comments from Rick Bartolucci, the minister of northern development and mines under former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, who said these two portfolios are “critically linked” and that having one minster preside over both will help mining across Ontario.

“We've heard from stakeholders already that they're very pleased that one minister is presiding over those two portfolios,” he said.

Rickford added he's looking forward to using his prior work experience to assist him with his other portfolio—indigenous affairs.

“I will be presiding over that with considerable expertise," he noted. ”You're talking to somebody who has spent a great deal of his life professionally as a nurse, as a lawyer, living and working in indigenous communities.

“I feel well-positioned to work with our partners in indigenous affairs, and I will be presiding over that with enthusiasm and all of the attention that the ministry has had before,” he pledged.

Rickford's has a full plate between his cabinet duties and responsibilities as MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, but said he has the skills and support in place to properly serve his constituents.

“Life is about balance and I don't see anything that's been put on me here that I'm not capable of doing—and doing well—if I'm surrounded by the right people, in particular, good people from Kenora-Rainy River,” he reasoned.

Rickford said he's eager to get started on his duties as MPP and provide “stronger representation” to the people of Kenora-Rainy River.

“We're going to Toronto in a big way,” he enthused.

Rickford also stressed being a cabinet minister will provide Kenora-Rainy River with a seat at “the big table where the big decisions are made.”

“Folks in Fort Frances and Rainy River, in the not-to-distant future, are going to see a real change and dramatic improvement in the amount of access they have to services from me as the member of provincial parliament,” he remarked.

Moving forward, Rickford said he plans to serve under a PC government that respects taxpayers and is accountable for how money is spent.

“I foresee a government that will be smaller, more efficient, more effective, and for the people,” he noted.

“We will be listening a lot more closely to the people, to small businesses, to job creators in big businesses, and individuals to try and understand how to make their lives simpler and less expensive.”

In the coming weeks, Rickford will be focused on getting briefed in his ministries, hiring ministerial staff, and setting up constituency operations in the riding.

He hopes to have those offices up and running by early to mid-August.

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