Doug Ford's transition team lays groundwork for PC government, considers cabinet choices

Premier-designate Doug Ford started assembling his Ontario provincial government cabinet Sunday.

Ontario premier-designate's team underway in helping him segue into power over next 19 days

Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford will meet with his transition team on Sunday at Queen's Park to start implementing 'the machinery' of a Progressive Conservative government. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Premier-designate Doug Ford started assembling his Ontario provincial government cabinet Sunday.

Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives stormed to a majority victory in Thursday's provincial election, joined his transition team shortly before noon for a "working meeting" at Queen's Park. 

One of the first items on the agenda, he told reporters on the steps of the province's 124-seat Legislature, is trimming the number of cabinet ministers. 

Outgoing premier Kathleen Wynne expanded the number to 30 during her term in office. But Ford is focused on finding "efficiencies" in government, and explained that winnowing down the size of the treasured cabinet posts is the "biggest problem" he's facing. The Tories hold 76 seats from which his cabinet can be formed. 

While Ford would not name anyone specifically, he may have signalled who some of those people would be when he assembled a number of key candidates at an event two weeks ago in Newmarket. Two of those candidates included former leadership hopefuls Christine Elliott and Caroline Mulroney

Ford's transition team of top political personalities, many of whom have worked at the federal level, are charged with helping him segue into power and determining the makeup of a strong PC government during the swift three-week handover from the Liberals. 

The team is led by veteran political consultant Chris Froggatt, who served in Stephen Harper's government, and includes Conservative MP John Baird, Canada's former foreign affairs minister during Harper's time and an executive at the Ford family business.

The four others who round out Ford's team of senior advisors include:

  • Mike Coates, a PC stalwart who chaired Kevin O'Leary's failed federal Tory leadership bid last year.

  • Simone Daniels, who is an executive at the Ford family business, Deco Labels, and served as his former office assistant during his time on city council. 

  • ​Reuben Devlin, who served as a senior advisor to Ford's campaign and is the former president and CEO of Humber River Hospital. 

  • Dean French, longtime ally and Ford's campaign chair, was recently appointed as his chief of staff in the premier's office. 

"We have already hit the ground running," Ford told a news conference in Etobicoke on Friday.

"We have begun work right away on setting up the premier's office, establishing a cabinet and implementing the machinery of a new government."

Ontario's Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell met with Ford on Friday afternoon and invited him to form government as the province's 26th premier.

Ford maintained that one of his first orders of business will be to scrutinize the province's books by hiring an auditing firm, at the advice of the transition team.

The premier-designate has signaled he plans to take swift action on some of his campaign promises immediately after he and his cabinet are sworn in on June 29. 

This includes lowering taxes, cutting hydro rates and eliminating the cap-and-trade system.

In the meantime, Ford announced PCs first caucus meeting will take place June 19. 

With files from The Canadian Press