Burlington politician Jane McKenna leaving Ontario politics to seek Halton Region post

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Published February 18, 2022 at 7:08 pm

Jane McKenna, second right, visits Nina’s Place at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington last Dec. 6. McKenna announced Friday she will not seek a third term as Burlington's member of provincial parliament. (InHalton file photo)

Jane McKenna is jumping to a different level of politics.

The Burlington member of provincial parliament, who is the the associate minister of children and women’s issues in Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario PC Party government, announced Friday that she is not seeking re-election. Rather, McKenna will make a run for Halton Regional Chair — a position currently held by Gary Carr — in municipal elections this fall.

The Ontario election is expected to be held on June 2. Municipal elections are four-and-a-half months later, on Oct. 24.

“I will continue to get things done for the people of #BurlON (Burlington) and #Halton (Halton) by running for Regional Chair of Halton in the upcoming municipal election,” McKenna wrote on her Twitter account.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Burlington for two-terms at Queen’s Park,” McKenna added in a statement. “I want to thank Premier Ford for the opportunity to serve in his Cabinet, and for always encouraging members of our PC Caucus to represent the views of our constituents within government.”

McKenna is the second cabinet minister in the Ford government to leave, joining Ajax MPP Rod Phillips. However, unlike Phillips, who was the minister of long-term care, she said she will fulfill her duties as associate minister of children and women’s issues until the June 2 election.

The announcement also comes just two days after Carr voted with the majority of Halton regional council to freeze the area’s urban boundary in 2041. Halton joined neigbhouring Hamilton in declining to open up arable farmland to commercial and residential development in order to meet job and population targets set by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

In her cabinet role, McKenna helped oversee the buildout of Ontario’s five-year, $307-million anti-human trafficking strategy. The two-term MPP and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy also created a task force on women and the economy.

However, under the PCs, Ontario is the only province or territory that has not signed on to the federal child-care agreement, which aims to lower day-care costs to $10 per day by 2025. Education Minister Stephen Lecce is the province’s point person on that file.

McKenna ran for Burlington council in 2010, but lost the race in Ward 1. She was first elected as an MPP in 2011, but lost the seat in 2014 to Liberal candidate Eleanor McMahon. In the next election cycle, she had a tense nomination race, but was returned to Queen’s Park after receiving 40.45 per cent support, for a nearly 12-point margin over NDP challenger Andrew Drummond and a nearly 16-point margin over McMahon.

However, McKenna only had a 3.47 per cent jump in 2018 over her 2014 effort.

The NDP beat their previous best in the riding by almost 10 points. The Liberals pulled more than 12 points lower after drawing 36 to 37 per cent support in the 2007, ’11, and ’14 elections.

McKenna was one of three Ontario PC Party MPPs who announced Friday that they are not running in June. Daryl Kramp (Hastings—Lennox & Addington in southeastern Ontario) and Bill Walker (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound in central Ontario) also announced their departures.

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