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Doug Ford and his cabinet are taking their oaths of office at Queen’s Park Friday morning, ushering in the province’s first Progressive Conservative government in nearly 15 years.
A bagpiper led Ford and the 21 member-strong cabinet into the Ontario legislature shortly before 11 a.m. Ford is now Ontario’s 26th premier, following his party’s majority win in June.
The formal ceremony, presided over by Lt.-Gov Elizabeth Dowdeswell, is still underway as each cabinet member swears an oath.
Dowdeswell called the day “an important occasion in the life and history of this province.”
“Serving the public is a noble endeavour,” she said. “There will undoubtedly be moments of joy and satisfaction, yet also times of challenge.”
She urged the incoming government to “be sustained by the optimism that is inherent in your oaths and in the traditions of our parliamentary democracy, as well as by the support and encouragement of family and friends, who proudly join you here today.”
More than 1,000 guests have been invited to the outdoor portion of the event, set for 12 p.m., which is also open to the public.
It is the first transition of power between parties in Ontario in nearly 15 years, since the PC government of Ernie Eves made way for the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty on Oct. 23, 2003. Kathleen Wynne formally resigned on Friday morning.
In her remarks, Dowdeswell thanked Wynne for her five years of service as Ontario’s premier, a tribute that was met with warm applause.
Ford takes office with a strong majority, having won 76 seats in the June 7 election. He has already announced that the first act of his government after the swearing-in will be to cancel Ontario’s cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions.
That announcement triggered the end of a program to provide Ontario homeowners with rebates on products to improve energy efficiency, such as smart thermostats and new windows.
Other campaign promises Ford and his cabinet could move on quickly include launching an independent audit of provincial finances left behind by the outgoing Liberal government, reviewing Ontario’s sex education curriculum and ousting the board of directors of Hydro One.
The Ford transition team has already ordered an indefinite hiring freeze among provincial government ministries.
Ford has not announced a date for the resumption of the Legislature.
When it does sit, the NDP will form the official opposition under Leader Andrea Horwath, with 40 seats. The Liberals hold just seven seats, too few for official party status in the Legislature. Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner won his party’s first ever seat in Ontario, in Guelph.