Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Another day, another Ontario culture minister with no experience

The revolving door of culture in Ontario continues to spin on its hinges with the appointment of Eleanor McMahon, the MPP for Burlington, as minister of tourism, culture and sport as a result of the shuffle of her cabinet by Ontario premier Kathleen Wynn. 

McMahon is the...what?...9th culture minister in roughly 14 years. And like many of her recent predecessors, she seems to have almost no track record in terms of cultural events or policy. 

McMahon's main claims to fame have been as director of public affairs at Petro-Canada, vice president at United Way Ottawa and executive director of public affairs at the Ontario Medical Association. She launched a campaign to improve road safety and road sharing as a direct result of the 2006 death of her husband OPP sergeant Greg Stobbart in a cycle-car collision and in his honour lobbied for the passage of passage of Greg’s Law in 2009 to reduce the number of suspended drivers and repeat offenders on Ontario’s roads. 
She was first elected to the legislature in 2014 and served as parliamentary assistant to the ministry of natural resources and forestry.
She succeeds Michael Couteau, who had relatively little feeling for the culture side of his ministry, any more than his predecessors, Michael Chan and Aileen Carroll. (Couteau seems to have been most invested in the funding of sports -- such as the announcement last week of $16.76 million to support athletes and sporting events.)
The mandate letter for Couteau, which presumably applies to McMahon, was to create an arts policy framework and unveil an Ontario Culture Strategy this month. However now, ostensibly because of the shuffle, the strategy is being postponed indefinitely. Perhaps to allow McMahon time to swot up on the sector. We can only hope. 

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