Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 8, 2016
Ted McMeekin stepping aside in advance of gender equity cabinet shuffle
Hamilton MPP Ted McMeekin says he will give up his spot at the Liberal cabinet table to make room for more women.
The municipal affairs and housing minister said in an interview Monday his decision was spurred by a looming cabinet shuffle and a desire to help Premier Kathleen Wynne shoot for gender parity.
“Sometimes timing is everything. The premier and I talked about it and she thinks it’s important to move toward more of a gender balance,” he said. “I happen to agree with her.”
The 68-year-old, who beat prostate cancer in 2008, said he feels great and is not leaving cabinet over health concerns. McMeekin (who will turn 69 in December) said he’ll continue as MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, but declined to say if he’ll run in 2018. He has been at Queen’s Park since a 2000 byelection in the former riding of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot.
In an online statement, McMeekin said he thought about his three daughters and a day when gender parity “would just be taken for granted.”
“Sometimes the best way for a man to advance the equality of women may be to step back and make room at the table,” he said in the statement.
McMeekin later added he felt more comfortable stepping away from cabinet because legislative action is “well underway” on many of his top priorities, including homelessness, poverty reduction and reviews of the Municipal Act and Greenbelt.
“I’m going to keep up my interest on those items,” he said. “And if my colleagues (in cabinet) need advice, well, they can come to me. I’m full of advice.”
Mayor Fred Eisenberger praised the “classy” decision even as he mourned the loss of Hamilton’s only provincial cabinet minister. “Not having that voice at the table is going to be a considerable loss. Those are important, powerful portfolios,” he said, also pointing to McMeekin’s past posts, including agriculture and community services.
“His legacy in Hamilton is enormous, from LRT to housing and homelessness.”
McMaster University political science professor Henry Jacek said he’s not surprised to see McMeekin “be the loyal soldier” for Wynne, whom he supported in the Liberal leadership race to replace Dalton McGuinty. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)