Regent Park (Audio): The Political Life of Canadian politician George Smitherman - Part 2
by Adonis Huggins with contribution by Nea Maaty
(Nea and Adonis are staff journalists with the FOCUS Media Arts Centre)
In this episode reporter Nea Maaty speaks with George Smitherman the former Toronto Centre Riding Member of Provincial Parliament from 1999 to 2009 (representing the communities of St. Jamestown, Regent Park, Moss Park, Cabbagetown and Church and Wellesley). George Smitherman was the first openly gay cabinet minister and served as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care from 2003 to 2007 as well as Minister of Energy and Infrastructure from 2008 to 2009. George was also the Deputy Premier of Ontario from 2006 to 2009. George resigned as a MPP to contest the mayoralty of Toronto in 2010, finishing second with 35.6% vote and losing to Doug Ford who won with 41% of the vote.
When George Smitherman first received the Liberal Party nomination for Toronto Centre Riding in 1999, it’s fair to say not many residents of riding including Regent Park, Moss Park, St. James Town or Cabbagetown, had an inkling of who he was. George however was no newcomer to politics. George, ever passionate about politics, had served as a liberal party organizer to Premier David Peterson and senior advisor to several federal ministers. George was also chief of staff and campaign manager to one time Mayor of Toronto, Barbara Hall, an experience that he would take with him to campaign in riding of Toronto Centre as the Liberal Party candidate and much later for the Toronto Mayoralty himself. On June 3, 1999, a Progressive Conservative government under Mike Harris would be re-elected, however Smitherman would succeed in winning the Toronto Centre seat for the Liberals.
George would end his political career with one more kick at the can, this time challenging incumbent councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Lucy Troisi for the ward’s single seat on council for Ward 13 (representing Regent Park, St. James Town, Moss Park and Cabbagetown). George would come in second to Kristyn Wong-Tam, but this time only winning 15% of the vote.
After years of departure from political life, George Smitherman is once again contemplating a return to the riding of Toronto Centre…this time not as a politician but as a resident of St. James Town. Welcome back George!
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Aujourd'hui, le centre des arts médiatiques FOCUS sert de centre d'apprentissage communautaire pour les nouveaux médias, les arts numériques et la radiodiffusion et la télévision. Nous fournissons un établissement communautaire dédié à la formation et au mentorat des jeunes et à l'engagement des membres de la communauté de tous âges.