Murray quitting as environment minister signalling a climate change at Queen’s Park
Premier Kathleen Wynne is suffering the loss of a key member of her cabinet with the surprise departure of Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray, the Star has learned.
Murray, 59, who has been out of the country and was unavailable for comment, will announce Monday at Queen’s Park that he is set to resign from provincial politics.
The Toronto Centre MPP, also a former mayor of Winnipeg and one-time Star columnist, has been Wynne’s point person on climate change.
He will step down immediately from cabinet, forcing the premier to do a minor shuffle of her executive council on Monday morning, but will remain as an MPP for a few more weeks to wind down some local constituency business.
Internationally respected on environmental issues, he was first elected in a February 2010 byelection after then-deputy premier George Smitherman left to run for mayor of Toronto and lost to Rob Ford.
Former premier Dalton McGuinty elevated Murray to cabinet just six months later where he served as minister of research and innovation. After the 2011 election, he was promoted to minister of training, colleges, and universities.
After McGuinty stepped down in October 2012, he launched a Liberal leadership bid, but dropped out to support Wynne shortly before the party’s convention in January 2013.
The new premier rewarded him for his timely endorsement, which gave her campaign momentum, by making him transportation and infrastructure minister in February 2013.
Following her majority victory in June 2014, Wynne moved him to the Ministry of the Environment and added “Climate Change” to his title to underscore its importance as Ontario was joining Quebec and California in a cap-and-trade system.
In a move some Liberals felt demonstrated petulance, Murray responded to being shuffled by taking to Twitter that June 25 and saying: “Today it sunk in the last election was my last.”
“Promised that if I couldn’t make a difference in 8 or 10 years I couldn’t make a difference,” the minister tweeted more than three years ago.
“First openly gay person elected in Canada. I have to thank Winnipeggers for electing me councillor and mayor and TO for electing me MPP and minister,” he continued.
“Minister of Environment in Ontario is the best political position I have ever had the privilege to hold. I was not demoted. Kathleen Wynne put me in a position where I can fight to ensure we can survive climate change.”
While his prophecy turned out to be true, Murray had indicated to allies more recently that he planned to run again next year, so his exit is blindsiding the governing Liberals.
A strong performer in the legislature, where he usually deflects opposition questions skilfully, he has emerged as one of Wynne’s better known ministers. (Source: Toronto Star)