Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray leaving cabinet, seat

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Environment Minister Glen Murray is leaving his cabinet position effective immediately and will resign his Toronto Centre seat as of Sept. 1.

Murray announced Monday morning he will join environmental think-tank Pembina Institute as of Sept. 5 as its executive director. He said in a statement that he is leaving Ontario politics to fight climate change at the national level.

The announcement comes as a surprise, as Murray had previously indicated he would run again in next year’s election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Chris Ballard has now replaced Murray at the helm of the environment and climate change ministry. Peter Milczyn will take over from Ballard as minister of housing. Milczyn will also be the minister responsible for the poverty reduction strategy.

Wynne also announced the Office of Francophone Affairs for Ontario will become a standalone ministry, with Marie-France Lalonde continuing in her role as Minister of Francophone Affairs and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

The changes maintain the size of Ontario’s cabinet at 29 ministers.

Under Murray’s tenure, the environment ministry implemented an ambitious cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A former mayor of Winnipeg, Murray was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2007 and served as minister of research and innovation and minister of training, colleges and universities under then-premier Dalton McGuinty.

After Wynne was elected premier, she gave him the portfolios of infrastructure and transportation.

Wynne said in a statement that Murray has always been guided by his passion.

“He is unrelenting in his advocacy for the issues he cares deeply about, dedicated to the people he represents in Toronto Centre and across the province…There is no doubt that Glen’s voice, candour and passion at the cabinet table will be missed.”

Wynne also cheered Murray’s advocacy for the LGBTQ community, as the country’s first openly gay mayor.

“Glen’s career has courageously lead by example, paving the way for people to be their true selves and become whatever they want to be,” she wrote.

Murray said in his statement that the decision to leave was a difficult one that he made with the support of his partner, Rick.

“I have also always viewed my life and career as split up into distinct chapters and often in response to serious challenges,” he wrote. “When confronted with a choice between the ‘unthinkable’ and the ‘impossible,’ I will always take on the impossible to stop the unthinkable.”

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