Ted McMeekin’s Resignation: Hamilton Without Cabinet Seat and Some 2018 Thoughts

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“Hamilton’s without a seat at the [Ontario] cabinet table for the first time since the Common Sense Revolution”

This was my initial thought and starting premise of my first draft upon learning of Ted McMeekin’s resignation from the provincial cabinet Monday afternoon. The idea of Hamilton, Ontario’s fifth largest city, not having a seat at the table seems inconceivable, but here we are.

For the first time since the Mike Harris Common Sense Revolution of 1995, Hamilton doesn’t have a provincial cabinet minister. Hamilton was without a cabinet member from 1995 to 2001 when Brad Clark was named Minister of Transportation.

Lack of Cabinet Representation

During the 1995-2001 period, Sheila Copps was federal Minister of Heritage.

McMeekin’s leaving cabinet means for the first time in living memory, Hamilton is without a seat in either the provincial or federal cabinet. At the very least, it’s a piece of political trivia. I’ve been thinking heavily on this moment, and I can’t determine how much significance I should attribute to it.

It’s not that the provincial government is excluding Hamilton – We only have one Liberal member provincially. There is an argument to be made there’s significance in that. Hamilton always had a cabinet seat under federal Liberal governments in the past.

Is it a sign of Hamilton’s decline in power which coincided with the decline in manufacturing? or is it that federal Hamilton votes NDP instead of Liberal? Former Mayor Larry Di Ianni often makes the argument Hamilton must vote for the governing party to have a seat at the table. (I poked at Di Ianni on Twitter on this topic)

A Hamilton MPP, Andrea Horwath, leads the Ontario NDP. MP David Christopherson is deputy leader of the federal NDP. Hamilton’s still a force in politics.

What Does McMeekin’s Move Mean for 2018

2018 Ontario Election

McMeekin’s decision to leave cabinet is a strong indicator he’ll retire from provincial politics in 2018. He will turn be 70 in 2018.

This opens the question – who will replace McMeekin as the provincial Liberal candidate in the riding of Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas? Speculation will focus upon Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson whose almost-blind support of Premier Kathleen Wynne earns him a nickname as the “Councillor from the Liberal Party of Ontario”.

The Flamborough-Glanbrook riding is unfavourable to the Liberal Party of Ontario, especially running as the governing party. McMeekin carried Flamborough on his own strengths as a former mayor of Flamborough.

As for other seats in Hamilton, unless some completely unforeseen event occurs, the NDP will hold Hamilton Centre, Hamilton East – Stoney Creek, and Hamilton Mountain.

2018 Municipal Election

Ted McMeekin’s name will be floated for the 2018 mayoral race. Two of his former cabinet colleagues are now mayors – Linda Jeffrey in Brampton and Jim Watson in Ottawa. Jeffrey was Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

At 70, McMeekin’s age may be seen as a liability, but being mayor could be McMeekin’s way of  “aging successfully” and Hazel McCallion served as Mayor of Mississauga into her 90s.

With two years until both elections, Hamilton’s political machines are already working on their 2018 campaigns. City Hall is fully in election mode, and McMeekin’s announcement is definitely being calculated by all three main parties, and the various coalitions at City Hall.

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