Doug Ford's 'truly humbled' as new Ontario PC government sworn in at Queen's Park
Ceremony officially gives Progressive Conservatives power for first time since 2003
Doug Ford said he is "truly humbled" by the trust voters have placed in him as he and his cabinet took their oaths of office at Queen's Park, 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 was presided over by Lt.-Gov Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
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 were invited to the outdoor portion of the event, which began just after 12 p.m. and was also open to the public.
Under sunny skies, Ford reaffirmed his oath of office before addressing his cabinet and the gathered crowd.
"I am truly humbled by the trust that you've put in me," he said.
"You believed as a province we can do better," he said. "You gave us a clear mandate and you gave us the tools to deliver on a plan. A plan that puts you first."
To voters, Ford reiterated his campaign pledges to respect taxpayers' money, eliminate the cap-and-trade system, lower gas prices, start a full audit of government spending and to "represent your interests above all others, to make decisions that will make life easier, better and more affordable, decisions that will alter the course of our great province and impact the future of our children."
Addressing his cabinet, Ford warned them that they have "a critical task ahead."
"It will mean long days, hard work and personal sacrifices. But I know our team is ready. We are ready to roll up our sleeves, ready to get the job done."
He also vowed to "cross party lines" and "put aside political differences" in order to bring to fruition a "united vision" for Ontario.
Strong PC majority
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.
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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 announced the legislature will resume on July 11 when MPPs will elect a Speaker who will take on the job of keeping MPPs in line.
The NDP will also 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.
Ford will deliver the throne speech the following day.