Before Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci could even officially announce his resignation from politics on Feb. 7, media speculation immediately turned to a Liberal party colleague to the west as his likely successor to a coveted provincial cabinet post.
But Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti was shooting down any speculation that he would be the next minister of northern development and mines.
Premier-electe Kathleen Wynne was to be sworn into office Feb. 11, followed afterward by her cabinet.
“As far as I know, Kathleen has not reassigned responsibilities in the caucus and the government so there's nothing I can say or report,” said Orazietti. “I haven't been contacted.”
With Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle holding the portfolio keys to the natural resources ministry, Toronto and regional media immediately anointed Orazietti as future cabinet material through Twitter.
“My staff saw that this morning and we talked about it, but there's all kinds of speculation out there anytime there are potential changes for cabinet and this is not unlike in days past with other shuffles and other changes in government. Until everything is firmed up, I'd prefer not to speculate.”
After serving three terms as the Sault's MPP over a decade, Orazietti stayed disciplined when asked if he was ready for a cabinet post.
“I've served in a number of parliamentary assistant roles in MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources), MNDM (Ministry of Northern Development and Mines), Education, and for the premier. I've chaired standing committees of the legislature, but I'm happy to support our government in whatever capacity Kathleen decides is appropriate.”
Orazietti took time to praise Bartolucci for his commitment to the region and his community.
“He's served for 18 years, and I don't think it's totally unexpected, but he's been a real champion of the North and has represented Sudbury incredibly well.
“He's always been supportive of the priorities that I've brought forward on behalf of our community, and he's been a good colleague and a good friend.”
But Orazietti sounded like a cabinet minister when asked about the region's future growth potential through natural resource development.
“Economic development in the North is my key priority. We need to make sure residents in our Northern communities have jobs and have opportunities, that we keep our youth people here and that there's growth and development.
“We've expanded the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and I think there are other opportunities we can continue to succeed. There's tremendous untapped potential in a day and era of challenging fiscal, economic times in jurisdictions all over the place. We need to make sure we're vigilant to create those opportunities here.”