One of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s veteran ministers says he’ll stand aside later this month to make room for more women around the cabinet table. “Sometimes the best way for a man to advance the equality of women may be to step back,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin wrote in a Facebook post after meeting with Wynne on Monday.
As the Star first reported, the premier is planning a major cabinet shuffle after the legislature rises for its summer break on Thursday to reshape her government for what is expected to be a challenging battle for re-election in two years.
McMeekin said he’s taking the “soul-searching” step in hopes Wynne can match Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by having gender parity in her own executive council.
“I have three daughters, all confident and accomplished young women. With my wonderful wife, they are the joy of my life,” wrote McMeekin, who will stay on as MPP for the Hamilton-area riding of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.
“Thinking of them, I’ve often dreamed of a day when the question of gender parity wouldn’t even arise, because it would just be taken for granted,” he added, describing himself as a feminist.
Many observers expected McMeekin would be dropped as Wynne rebuilds her cabinet with fresh faces.
Wynne has tried to downplay the pending shuffle and told reporters in Winnipeg recently that she will “try” to have equal numbers of men and women.
“I will do my best to have representation from around the province, experience, gender, all of those things, and if I fall short (on gender equality) I will continue to try,” she said at a federal Liberal convention last month.
Wynne hailed McMeekin as a progressive and said “as we take steps towards gender parity in cabinet, selfless and bold action like Ted’s is welcome.”
Government sources have confided that it will be difficult for Wynne to have gender parity given her existing caucus, which is much smaller than Trudeau’s. There are now eight women, including the premier, and 19 men in cabinet.
Wynne is halfway through her mandate and is aiming to move ministers from policy-making mode to implementation, with sources saying she will change the structure of some ministries and promote a number of backbenchers to cabinet.
Insiders say they include Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault, a former New Democrat MP who won a contentious byelection last year, and Eleanor McMahon (Burlington), who was press secretary to former prime minister Jean Chrétien.
Other women under consideration are Indira Naidoo-Harris (Halton), a former journalist with CBC and Omni; former CKCO journalist Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre); Cambridge MPP Kathryn McGarry, a critical care nurse; and Chief Government Whip Marie-France Lalonde