By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod won’t serve another term in cabinet after being ousted from the high-level position.
On Friday, June 24, Doug Ford swore in his 30-seat new cabinet, which MacLeod was notably absent from. Many political insiders predicted the Nepean representative wouldn’t return to cabinet after facing a swarm of controversy over the last four years.
MacLeod served as the Minister in charge of Children, Community and Social Services, and also the Minister in charge of Women’s Issues, from June 2018 until June 2019. She then switched to the Minister in charge of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, after receiving months of heated public backlash.
About an hour after the Cabinet list was released, MacLeod issued a statement saying she was stepping back to focus on “health and healing” over the new few months, after a difficult two years.
During the first year under Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government, MacLeod was the Minister in charge of the Autism portfolio. Sweeping changes were announced to the way funding was distributed in hopes of cleaning long waitlists for support. But it was scrutinized by parents of Autistic children who feared they would be left even further behind in the system, and could lose access to support already provided. The wide backlash resulted in the plans being axed, but now four heads later, enough children are still on waitlists to fill the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
During that period countless protests were held outside MacLeod’s then Fallowfield Road constituency office, and on the front lawn of Queen’s Park. A March was also held from Barrhaven to Parliament Hill in Downtown Ottawa.
In June 2019 MacLeod faced criticism after allegedly verbally attacking Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk at an Ottawa Senators concert.
Melnyk alleged that MacLeod said to him: “I am your minister and you’re a f-ing piece of sh*t and you’re a f-ing loser.” The Ottawa Senators owner made a complaint to Premier Ford, resulting in MacLeod apologizing for her “blunt” language.
But what most likely sealed MacLeod’s fate was a recent finding released by the New Democrats that MacLeod took $44,000 from her Nepean riding association to mostly be used as a housing subsidy. While not illegal, opposition parties called the move “unethical” and even the Premier shared his discontent.
Days before the election during a campaign stop in Ottawa, Ford told reporters he was “frustrated” when he found out, and wanted to work with all parties to bring an end to the practice. MacLeod was notably not beside the Premier during the announcement, a change from 2018 when the two stood side by side during many announcements in the capital.
After news of the allowance came out, MacLeod avoided giving any interviews and didn’t attend any local debates.
On election night MacLeod locked the media out of her invitation-only victory party, and has kept a low profile since.
MacLeod’s former ministry of tourism, culture, and sport, has gone to Neil Lumsden, the newly elected MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.
The only cabinet minister from Ottawa will be Merrilee Fullerton, who remains Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
MacLeod is one of two PC caucus members removed from cabinet: Ross Romano also lost his high level position.
The Nepean representative also won the latest provincial election by her lowest margin yet, with about 39 per cent of the vote, or 17,108 ballots cast in her name. Liberal candidate Tyler Watt came in second place with 33 per cent of the vote, and was 2,006 votes behind MacLeod. NDP candidate Brian Double came in third place with about 20 per cent.
MacLeod won 26 of 31 polls in her Nepean riding, but some were won by only a handful of votes.
June saw MacLeod’s sixth election victory, serving Nepean (and Nepean-Carleton before that) since 2006.
This is a developing story. More to come…