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Saunderson appointed parliamentary assistant to attorney general

Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Rick Byers both received parliamentary assistant roles supporting Premier Doug Ford's cabinet

Newly elected Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson, formerly the mayor of Collingwood, will be drawing on his background in law for his first cabinet support role in provincial government. 

On June 29, Saunderson was appointed the parliamentary assistant to the attorney general, which is Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey. 

"I'm quite excited," said Saunderson. "I'm looking forward to working with [Downey] on the administration of the courts and justice system in Ontario." 

Among the first priorities for the office, said Saunderson, is clearing the backlog of cases before the courts. 

"COVID has certainly put a lot of pressures on the judicial system, as it has on many, many systems," he said. "We're working to clear the backlog and make the system more efficient." 

He said he plans to meet with Downey to discuss other items on the attorney general's office to-do list. 

"Certainly I'll be talking about the recommendations of Justice Marrocco with him and exploring those changes," said Saunderson. 

Justice Frank Marrocco was the commissioner who oversaw the Collingwood Judicial Inquiry in 2019, which investigated the share sale of 50 per cent of the town's electric utility to PowerStream and the subsequent spending of the proceeds from the sale. The inquiry produced more than 330 recommendations on municipal and provincial government transparency, roles of elected officials, procurement standards, codes of conduct, and lobbying. 

Nearby the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Rick Byers, also in his first term in provincial office, was appointed as parliamentary assistant to the minister of finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, the MPP for Pickering Uxbridge. Bethlenfalvy has been minister of finance since 2020. 

In a news release from his office, MPP Byers said he was delighted at the appointment, and he looks forward to working with Bethlenfalvy. 

Byers has career experience in financial markets, which he will draw on for the role. 

Parliamentary assistants are appointed as support for cabinet ministers, and can help by carrying out minister's duties and communicating government projects. 

Premier Ford appointed 30 cabinet ministers and 43 parliamentary assistants this month after the election at the beginning of June. There were 83 Conservative MPPs elected in the June 2 vote.

The base salary for an MPP in Ontario is $116,500. A parliamentary assistant gets an extra $16,000, and a cabinet minister's salary is $165,850. 

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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