Ontario government shakeup: Murray out, Ballard in and no byelection – Toronto

A downtown Toronto riding will be without representation at the Ontario legislature until next spring as Premier Kathleen Wynne has decided not to call a byelection to replace MPP Glen Murray, who announced Monday that he’s leaving politics.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, the premier said she decided not to send Toronto Centre voters to the polls in order to avoid the “significant costs” of a byelection.

“I think it is only responsible that we not, so close to an election, incur the cost of a byelection,” Wynne said.

Murray announced Monday that he will resign his seat on Sept. 1. A general election is set for June 7, 2018.

“We’re moving into that period, well within a year of a general election and historically there has been a practice of when you get that close it’s not necessarily responsible to call a byelection. So we won’t be doing that,” the premier said Monday.

Murray, who was first elected in Toronto Centre in 2010, is leaving politics to become executive director of the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank.

“Serving the people of Toronto Centre as their MPP has been a privilege and a humbling learning experience,” Murray said in a statement.

Cabinet shuffle

While Murray’s legislative seat will sit vacant for months, his cabinet post has already been filled.

Wynne announced that Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard is taking over for Murray as environment minister.

Speaking alongside the premier on Monday, Ballard said he’s passionate about the environment and will approach the new job with urgency.

“The file is so critical and so important that we can’t turn the heat down on this one,” he said.

Ballard had previously served as minister of housing and minister responsible for the poverty reduction strategy, positions that will now be filled by Toronto MPP Peter Milczyn.

Murray’s departure comes as a surprise, as he had previously indicated he would run again in next year’s election.

Former mayor

Murray has been a fierce defender of his environmental positions and under his tenure the ministry implemented an ambitious cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A former mayor of Winnipeg, Murray was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2007 and served as minister of research and innovation and minister of training, colleges and universities under then-premier Dalton McGuinty.

After Wynne was elected premier, she gave him the portfolios of infrastructure and transportation.

Wynne…

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