George Smitherman

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George Smitherman

George Smitherman (born 1964) is a Canadian politician. He represented the provincial riding of Toronto Centre in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1999 to 2010, when he resigned to contest the mayoralty of Toronto in the 2010 municipal election. Smitherman is the first openly gay Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) elected in Ontario, and the province's first openly gay cabinet minister.



Smitherman was born at Humber Memorial Hospital (now Humber River Regional Hospital Church site) in Weston, Ontario and spent much of his early years in Etobicoke (he briefly lived in East York, Ontario).His parents were Arthur and Irene (Margaret) and George was one of four children (Arthur Jr., Joanne and Christine). Smitherman's parents divorced when he was 11, but he maintained good ties with both and with his stepfather.

Smitherman spent a lot of time working with his father's business, Smitty's Haulage (later Sure-Way Transport).

Early Politics

Smitherman was active in politics at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, where he was the high school's student council president. He dabbled in municipal politics in Etobicoke. Smitherman decided against post-secondary education and began his political career. He worked as an organizer for the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier David Peterson. He was chief of staff to Ontario cabinet minister Hugh O'Neil and senior advisor to Ontario federal political ministers Herb Gray and David Collenette. He was chief of staff and campaign manager to one-time Mayor of Toronto Barbara Hall. He also ran a private consulting business and co-owned a photofinishing shop in downtown Toronto until 1994.

Provincial Politics

In the 1999 provincial election Smitherman was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate for Toronto Centre-Rosedale. The riding's previous MPP,Progressive Conservative (PC) Al Leach, had chosen not to run again, and former Toronto mayor John Sewell was running as a independent candidate. Although a Progressive Conservative government was re-elected, Smitherman won the seat for the Liberals.

In the 2003 election Smitherman was re-elected and the Liberals won the election. Dalton McGuinty was sworn in as the 24th Premier of Ontario on October 23, 2003. Smitherman was named to cabinet as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. He was also named Deputy Premier and the Toronto Regional Minister.

Under Smitherman’s leadership, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care launched the Wait Times Strategy in 2004. The new health care model was designed to reduce wait times for various procedures such as hip and knee replacement, MRIs and CT scans. The Wait Times Strategy also focused on shrinking wait times for cancer, cardiac and cataracts surgeries.

Smitherman also launched the Ministry’s ‘Aging at Home’ Strategy in 2007. The initiative focused on delivering enhanced community health care services and enabling seniors to live independent, healthy lives at home through home care and other community based services.

In the 2007 election, Smitherman was re-elected as the MPP for Toronto Centre and continued in his roles as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deputy Premier and Toronto Regional Minister.

On June 20, 2008, Smitherman was shuffled to the new Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, a merger of two formerly separate government departments. McGuinty dismissed suggestions that he combined the energy and infrastructure portfolios to satisfy Smitherman, saying, "I think it's a great fit, it's a natural fit, and it's an essential part of our plan to grow this economy." Smitherman was the first Liberal in the history of Toronto's NOW magazine to be voted best MPP.

As the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Smitherman was responsible for Ontario’s Green Energy Act which was passed in September 2009. The Act encourages investment in green energy production by providing businesses the ability to sell energy produced from renewable sources to the province’s electricity grid through a Feed-in-Tariff program.

The Green Energy Act has resulted in a series of record-breaking corporate investments in wind and solar energy worth billions of dollars.

The World Wind Energy Association chose Smitherman as the recipient of their annual World Wind Energy Award in 2009 for his outstanding achievements in making Ontario the leading wind energy jurisdiction in North America

Toronto Mayoral Election

On September 9, 2009, Smitherman strongly suggested that he would be running for mayor of Toronto in the upcoming 2010 mayoral election. He emphasized that any official announcements would not come before "the unofficial campaign season municipally begins in the new year."

On November 8, Smitherman announced his resignation from the provincial cabinet in order to run for mayor. He remained in the legislature as a backbench MPP until January 4, 2010.

In April 2010, Smitherman's campaign manager, Jeff Bangs, resigned and was replaced by Bruce Davis, chair of the Toronto District School Board and a veteran of local politics.

George Smitherman’s campaign has 3 primary thrusts:


Smitherman’s policy focuses on supporting all transportation choices. Plans include extension of all existing subway lines while integrating light rail, commuter rail and subways in an effort to reach all corners of the GTA and make the TTC more accessible; improvements in the overall condition of existing bike lanes and separation of bike lanes from vehicle traffic by curbs; creation of a policy to measure and monitor days of disruption for roadway projects in order to better manage road construction to reduce traffic congestion.

Core Services:

Smitherman has described his policy for improving city services as a “Service First” approach. Plans include adding officers to the Police Force; merging Fire Toronto and Emergency Medical Services into one unit to reduce wait times; cleaning Toronto’s beaches; a new solid waste and recycling program; and cutting $2 million from the Mayor’s and Councillor’s budget.

Jobs and Social Development:

Under Smitherman’s vision, municipal government will play a key role in establishing an attractive environment for businesses and entrepreneurs from around the world to operate and invest in the city in order to create jobs and new opportunities for Torontonians.


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