TORONTO — Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government had barely been in power for an hour Friday before it was under attack about the perceived lack of diversity in its cabinet.
Shortly before officially taking the reigns of the province, Doug Ford announced the 20 ministers tasked with helping him shepherd the new government’s agenda of fiscal restraint.
But while the cabinet drew praise for enlisting members with considerable public and private sector experience, critics also noted the fact that only seven women and one visible minority currently have a seat on the front benches.
Two out of three opposition parties said the makeup of the cabinet does not reflect the diversity of either the Tory caucus or the province as a whole.
Political observers also noted the lack of diversity, but said the current cabinet composition makes an effort to balance different sets of interests including regional representation and willingness to commit to the promised agenda.
The Progressive Conservative party did not respond to a request for comment.
Critiques of the new Tory cabinet, which features plum portfolios for Ford’s past political rivals as well as veterans of provincial and federal politics, began pouring in almost immediately after Ford delivered a speech to cheering supporters gathered outside of the legislature.
Newly elected New Democrat Sarah Singh, whose party now forms the official Opposition in the legislature, said the image of the predominantly male, white cabinet sends a disheartening message for those hoping to feel supported by the Ford administration.
“For me as a young woman of colour, and I’m sure for many others across this province, they’re not seeing themselves reflected in the decisions that were made today,” Singh said after extending her congratulations to the newly minted ministers.
Singh also criticized Ford’s decision to assign the Indigenous affairs portfolio to a minister who’s already overseeing the major files of energy and northern affairs.