Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman says he’s “not overly enthusiastic” about Premier Doug Ford’s decision to remove him from his post as Ontario agriculture minister.
Hardeman, a 26-year Tory veteran at Queen’s Park, was one of five ministers removed from Ford’s cabinet on June 18 after the premier decided to shuffle his cabinet a year before the next provincial election.
“Obviously, I’m not overly enthusiastic about the results that I end up with but that’s the way it goes,” Hardeman told The London Free Press.
“I was honoured to be appointed, and I will move forward with my next stage as we go on from today.”
Also rotated out of Cabinet was Jeff Yurek, the MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London. A request for comment wasn’t immediately returned by Yurek’s office.
Hardeman was first appointed agriculture minister when Ford’s Tories won the 2018 election, in which the party also took seven of 10 seats in the wider London region.
He’s being replaced by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, who previously served as education minister and other posts in Ford’s cabinet.
Hardeman, who also served as agriculture minister under then-Premier Mike Harris from 1999-2001, has the Tory nomination in Oxford for the 2022 election.
Asked whether Ford’s moves changed his decision to seek re-election, Hardeman responded cryptically.
“We are nominated to run in the next election,” he said. “We haven’t made any further decisions . . . so we’ll talk about and think about that another day.”
Yurek, first elected to Queen’s Park in 2011, was initially appointed natural resources and forestry minister, moving to transportation in November 2018, then to the environment portfolio. Yurek is being replaced by David Piccini, MPP for Northumberland–Peterborough South.
Hardeman and Yurek were victims of Ford’s reorganization of his cabinet, which was meant to bring more young, female and ethnically diverse voices to the decision-making table.
“Our renewed team is well positioned to deliver on the priorities that matter to Ontarians, including getting more people back to work, making life more affordable, supporting businesses and job creators and building transit infrastructure,” Ford said in a statement.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, is keeping his position in the cabinet.