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Monday, 29 October, 2007

Rumours abound on Smitherman shuffle

The Toronto Star has been reporting speculation that George Smitherman, the Minister of Health and Long Term Care of Ontario, could be moved to a different portfolio.

On Saturday, columnist Ian Urquhart of possible replacements for Greg Sorbara at the Ministry of Finance. He names energy minister Dwight Duncan the leading candidate. Here's his take on the prospect of Smitherman filling the finance job:

He has won plaudits for his performance as health minister in the Liberal government's first term. And it is noteworthy that McGuinty passed over Duncan to name Smitherman as deputy premier in 2006. Smitherman is a gifted communicator, but he may be too much of a street fighter for the finance portfolio. Also, associates say he wouldn't mind staying on in health for a least a year or two.
In an article , the Star reiterates that moving Smitherman to the Ministry of Finance would likely necessitate a major rethinking of the cabinet and again points to Duncan as the logical choice. A Globe report today .

With collective agreement negotiations looming with doctors, nurses and hospitals (as I write ), it seems to make sense to keep Smitherman in health, at least in the short-term. If not liked, then he is at least respected now among healthcare stakeholders and he's unlikely to repeat the mistakes of 2004. But, with rumours about possible runs for premier of Ontario or mayor of Toronto in a few years, a Smitherman shuffle seems entirely plausible in a year or two.

(Click the photo above to read NRM's Q&A interview with George Smitherman from earlier this year.)

Update, 2:30 pm, Monday -- From the horse's mouth: Smitherman he's happy to stay in the Ministry of Health and hasn't asked to be moved.

Update, 9:20 am, Tuesday -- . Duncan to energy, Smitherman stands pat. One interesting note is the first-ever solo Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Previously that job had fallen to another cabinet member, alongside their other duties.

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