What portfolio will McMeekin receive with Hamilton's cabinet seat?

Hamilton’s current provincial Cabinet Minister Sophia Aggelonitis lost her Hamilton Mountain riding tonight to the NDP.

With this Hamilton’s seat at the Cabinet table is vacant and only one Liberal remains standing: Ted McMeekin.

It will be surprising if third term premier Dalton McGuinty breaks with tradition and does not have a seat for Hamilton on the Executive Council of Ontario.

Ted McMeekin is likely to return to the Cabinet which lost a few key members during last night’s vote. The question is what portfolio does McMeekin receive?

Had McGuinty secured a third majority mandate, McMeekin would be a leading contender for Minister of Education. However, the minority government rules that out, but not for the reasons you may think.

The “star” cabinet minister’s would not be looking for heavy portfolios if the Liberals secured a majority government – they’d be looking for high-profile, lesser workload portifolios that allowed them to quietly prepare for the Liberal leadership race to replace McGuinty.

With a minority government, the Liberal leadership race to replace McGuinty is indefinitely postponed.

Where does this leave McMeekin? He could return to Government Services, but I expect he’ll end up in Innovation and Research. The current Minister holding the portfolio is Glen Murray – he’s proven himself and is due for a promotion. Expect Murray to fill Environment or maybe even Education.

McMeekin is well respected by the Civil Service, a diligent worker, and a steady hand. He’s well suited to Innovation. With his experience as PA to the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities John Milloy (who will likely stay in his position), he has the background knowledge required for Innovation.

The only reason not to grant him that portfolio – a leadership contender snags it first. It’s one of those great cabinet jobs that involves lots of travel, lots of networking, and lots of good news announcing – perfect for the aspiring to-be premier in any party.