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New assistant named for Ont. ag minister

The new Ontario MPP who effectively ended John Tory’s career in provincial politics has been named as the new parliamentary assistant to Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky.

Rick Johnson, who came to the legislature in March after beating then-Progressive Conservative leader John Tory in a byelection in the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding, was named Friday as one of 35 parliamentary assistants to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet.

Parliamentary assistants are MPPs who work with cabinet ministers to carry out the government’s agenda and often handle special projects and develop policy proposals for the government.

When the legislature is in session, the assistants often represent their ministers during debate on government bills.

Johnson, a businessman best known for his involvement in school board organizations, lives on a family farm near Pontypool, about 35 km southwest of Peterborough.

Johnson has served as president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association and, more recently, of the Canadian School Boards Association.

Having been defeated by Laurie Scott of the Tories in the 2007 provincial election, Johnson ran again in the March 5 byelection when Scott stepped aside to allow for Tory, who had also been defeated in the 2007 race, to try to get back into the legislature.

Johnson narrowly defeated Tory by a spread of 947 votes, after which Tory quit as the PCs’ leader and was replaced by Tim Hudak.

As Dombrowsky’s parliamentary assistant, Johnson replaces Lou Rinaldi, the MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West, who was named Friday as parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs.

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