“Liberated” George Smitherman registers to run for Toronto City Councillor

May 9, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

Former deputy premier of the Liberal government, George Smitherman, registered to run for Toronto City Council today.

“[I’m] really excited and, in a certain sense, liberated… because the privilege of trying to represent a community as an elected representative — that’s what comes more naturally to me than anything else,“ he said moments after registering.

Smitherman ran for mayor against Rob Ford in 2010 and was defeated. In October of 2017, tvo’s Steve Paikin reported that at the time Smitherman “has expressed interest in making a political comeback in the riding. But he says that so far, his efforts have been stymied by head office, which told him (via a third party) that his candidacy wasn’t welcome.”

Smitherman compared today’s registration with his mayoral run against Ford. “It might be tempting to kind of feel like this is the next day after 2010… but that isn’t that for me because, in the years since then, there’s so many layers of me that have evolved – most especially my responsibilities as a parent. Now, you know, politics is about — [and] public services is about — parks.”

Smitherman said he’s glad to have the support of the late local councillor Pam McConnell’s family and is excited about “creating a capacity to live up to this idea of being a community champion.”

This wasn’t the first time the veteran politician spoke of that idea of being a community at city hall. In 2016, Smitherman came to the mayor’s Executive Committee to make a deputation about an item called “Request for the Government of Ontario to Close Pickering Nuclear Station in 2018.” Smitherman’s comments included his experience as former Minister of Energy and Infrastructure of Ontario in 2008.

At that meeting, Mayor John Tory asked Smitherman what he thought of city council resolutions when he was minister. “I’ve had a bit of a bias ever since I’ve been here, saying we should sort of, you know, more more or less stay to our own area of jurisdiction — we’ve got enough issues to deal with down here, let alone sending messages up the street. What did you used to think of those when you were up there, and did you pay any attention to them?”

Smitherman’s answer, almost two years ago, was that he started as an advocate fighting to keep the Wellesley Hospital open and believes it’s important for communities to inform the discussion on the issue.

“It might not be exactly in your jurisdiction,” he answered, “but nuclear power to the best of my knowledge, and radiation and such, isn’t really going to recognize the Rouge River as a boundary that it shouldn’t cross, and you can just imagine even in a minor circumstance the attending pressures on Toronto’s first responders. So, it is not exactly in the municipality and not exactly a municipal issue, but it does have tremendous crossover, Your Worship.”