Rickford confident he can continue to serve constituents as portfolio changes

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer
abradbury@fortfrances.com

Last Friday, Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford was sworn in as the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. He says being able to focus on these two areas will help him in constituency work.

“I take a great deal of pride in the fact that we had such great support from the constituents,” Rickford said. “Moving forward, I represent the interests of everyone who lives in Kenora-Rainy River and that’s a tremendous responsibility.”

Before the election earlier this month, Rickford also held the portfolios of what are now the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Those two portfolios have been taken over by George Pirie, MPP for Timmins and Graydon Smith, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka respectively.

MPP Greg Rickford

Rickford says he appreciates the chance he has to serve constituents with the portfolios he’s continuing in.

“It’s always a privilege to serve at the pleasure of the Premier in the Executive Council,” Rickford said. “I’ve held a number of different ministries over the course of the previous four years. I’m particularly happy and humbled by the opportunities that we have moving forward born from my swearing in last week.”

Rickford says it makes sense that mining should go to Pirie who has experience in the area where the government plans to develop the Ring of Fire mining project.

“One of the things that comes with having so much success, for example, in mining, is that there’s a great opportunity to shore up communities with development capacity to be able to handle that,” Rickford said. “And the premier, rightly in my view, wanted someone with particular expertise to focus on that.”

He also says that he feels like the two ministries he has now he really feels passionate about and the two go hand-in-hand well.

“Indigenous Affairs is a passion of mine,” Rickford said. “It’s something that has been with me for my entire political career. It has played an important role in my previous professional capacities as a nurse and as a lawyer, so that’s very near and dear to me. To be the Minister of two different ministries, there’s synergies between the two of them and then there’s points of separation. But I’m happy to have the opportunity to focus on these opportunities.

In a statement issued Friday after the swearing-in ceremony, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) affirmed its commitment to working with Rickford towards advancement of Métis rights in Ontario.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Ontario on a government-to-government basis to address issues of critical importance to our citizens and ultimately make Ontario stronger,” said MNO President Margaret Froh. “We welcome the opportunity to meet with this new Government in the coming weeks to discuss how we can work together to advance our joint priorities during the upcoming term. We would like to congratulate Minister Rickford on his renewed appointment and we look forward to moving forward together to best serve the citizens of the MNO.”

Rickford says that he knows he is responsible to the whole province in his ministerial roles but he will leverage those roles to help constituents of Kenora-Rainy River.

“I’m a minister of the crown and responsible to the whole province of Ontario, my contributions to cabinet and my portfolios,” he said. “But I never miss an opportunity to leverage my cabinet positions for the benefit of the communities and the people of my riding, and that won’t change. I think that the portfolios that I have put me in a really good position,maybe even a stronger position to focus on those things moving forward.”