George Smitherman

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Q&A: George Smitherman on medical marijuana, becoming a single dad and that Rob Ford “shit”

Q&A: George Smitherman on medical marijuana, becoming a single dad and that Rob Ford "shit"
Q&A: George Smitherman on medical marijuana, becoming a single dad and that Rob Ford "shit"

You recently announced that you’re ­getting into the weed business, which seems like an odd career choice: former health minister turns pot farmer. Why medical marijuana, and why now?
I’m not sure I agree with your premise. Medical marijuana is a legitimate industry that presents tremendous opportunities to help people, and it’s projected for extraordinary growth.

There are 450 applicants hoping to cash in on the new, loosened pot laws. What makes your product better than theirs?
Reputability. Our head of security, Kim Derry, is the former deputy chief of the Toronto police. Kandavel Palanivel, a pharmacist and a farmer, is in charge of the product itself. And I’m in charge of the application and doctor outreach.

How much will you charge for a gram?
Health Canada recommends $7.50. We’ll aim to beat that, but it’s too early to declare a specific price point.

Has medical marijuana helped people you know?
Yes. Friends in the gay community who say it restores appetite and combats the nausea caused by HIV drug cocktails.

Do you smoke weed?
I have, although rye was the substance of choice in my youth. Those wild days are over. The parties I’m planning now are princess-themed ones for my four-year-old daughter, Kayla.

How are you and the kids coping since losing Christopher, your husband, to suicide in December?
We’re doing well in our circumstances, but our circumstances are shit. My kids are my barometer, and they are happy, loved and busy: Kayla does ­ballet, and Michael, who’s five, plays tennis. The pitter-patter of their feet in the morning is the best medicine.

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One-time mayoral candidate George Smitherman is getting into the medical-marijuana biz

(Image: Smitherman: Joseph Morris; marijuana: Mark)

(Image: Smitherman: Joseph Morris; marijuana: Mark)

What does life after losing an election to Rob Ford look like? For George Smitherman, the second-place finisher in 2010’s mayoral election, it evidently looks like a bucolic farm, and a never-ending supply of medical-grade weed. CTV reports that the ex-Ontario health minister is working with former deputy police chief Kim Derry and a Markham pharmacist to start a licensed grow-op in Uxbridge. He’s one of hundreds of applicants under a new federal program designed to take pot cultivation out of the hands of medical-marijuana patients and make it the purview of a new group of licensed commercial growers. The program is proceeding, despite a court injunction issued against it late last month.

The other 2010 mayoral candidates are also getting on with their lives, albeit in less headline-grabbing ways. Rocco Rossi lost a bid for a seat at Queen’s Park and is now CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada, Joe Pantalone is a lobbyist and Sarah Thomson, having also lost a Queen’s Park bid, has morphed into a kind of professional weirdo.

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Ezra Levant thinks George Smitherman’s personal tragedy is somehow unfair to Rob Ford

On Monday, Christopher Peloso, husband of one-time mayoral candidate and former deputy premier George Smitherman, was found dead after being reported missing the previous day. Journalists working on the story were respectful of Smitherman’s grief—that is, except Sun News Network’Ezra Levant. Here he is tweeting just a few hours after news of Peloso’s death started circulating:

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George Smitherman’s husband, Christopher Peloso, found dead

smitherman-peloso

George Smitherman (left) and Christopher Peloso (Images: Smitherman: Joseph Morris; Peloso: Toronto Police)

Christopher Peloso, husband of one-time mayoral candidate and former deputy premier George Smitherman, has been found dead, according to a statement posted earlier this morning on Smitherman’s website. Toronto Police had asked the public for assistance finding Peloso on Sunday evening. He was last seen on Sunday at 11 a.m., in the Bloor and Lansdowne area.

The two men married in 2007 and had adopted two children together. Smitherman’s statement calls Peloso a “son and brother, a husband and father of three.”

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George Smitherman and Deepa Mehta endorse woman who is not running for mayor

smitherman-chow-endorsement

Toronto’s mayoral elections are notorious for being drawn-out, soul-crushing marathons—and that’s when they start on schedule. Thanks to Mayor Rob Ford’s fractious influence, though, the 2014 campaign has been raging (albeit quietly) for more than a year ahead of its January 2, 2014 start date. With a less than a month to go, things are so tense that Oliva Chow—the leading left-wing contender—is already getting endorsements, even though she hasn’t actually said publicly that she’ll run.

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UPDATED: George Smitherman’s husband found alive near Landsdowne and Dupont

Christopher Peloso, right, was last seen near Davenport and Bathurst (Images: Google Maps, Toronto Police Service)

Well, this is troubling: Christopher Peloso, the husband of former health minister and mayoral candidate George Smitherman, has been reported missing by Toronto Police, who say they are concerned for his safety. Peloso and Smitherman have been married for six years and adopted a son and a daughter together. The 39-year-old was last seen on Monday at 4 p.m. near Davenport Road and Bathurst wearing a dark-blue hooded jacket, shorts and flip-flops. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477. [Toronto Police]

UPDATE: Police say they found Peloso “breathing and conscious” near Lansdowne and Dupont just before 11 a.m. today, nearly two days after he disappeared. He is now receiving care at Toronto Western Hospital. [Canada.com]

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Philip Preville: Ford Nation is not who you think it is

Crackgate revealed that the city’s crippling political divide isn’t between downtowners and suburbanites—it’s between the rich and the poor, and it’s only getting worse

Philip Preville: Champion of the Working Class

What will it take for Ford Nation to abandon their man? That’s become one of the great riddles of our time. In late May, as lurid stories swirled of crack videos, hashish trafficking, murders, firings and resignations—all coming on the heels of Ford’s lawsuits, the alleged ass grab and a reported removal from a military ball for drunken behaviour—a Forum Research poll showed that 40 per cent of Toronto voters continue to be die-hard Ford supporters. Among those who voted for the mayor in 2010, 75 per cent still approved of his job performance. The anti-Ford camp tends to explain this stubborn refusal to accept mounting evidence as a symptom of the culture war between downtown and the suburbs. On one side are the elitist downtown progressives who favour transit, walkability, cycling, densification, lattes and street festivals; on the other side are the suburbanites, who prefer private space, low-density living, commuting by car, Tim Hortons and backyard barbecues.

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Mayor In Waiting: an inside look at Olivia Chow’s political ambitions

Olivia Chow’s public mourning after Jack Layton’s death cast her in a new light: dignified, likeable and, well, mayoral. Toronto wants her to run, but does she want Toronto?

Olivia Chow

(Image: Christopher Wahl)

The morning of December 13, Olivia Chow woke up with a strange feeling on the left side of her face. Her ear was also a little sore, but it had been like that for a week. It was only when she went to the mirror that she realized she couldn’t smile. Her skin drooped; she looked older and more tired. But she felt normal, thoughts whirring inside her head at the same pace as always. So she went right on with the phone interview on Newstalk 1010 she had scheduled for 7:30 a.m., before going to her family doctor.

The culprit turned out to be Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a complication from a shingles infection of her facial nerve. It wasn’t a serious illness, just bad luck. There was only a small spot of shingles inside her ear. Her doctor put her on a week of the steroid prednisone and an antiviral. About three quarters of patients who are treated within three days recover from the syndrome; she had arrived within a few hours, so the prognosis was good.

It’s tempting to invest this minor medical incident with heavy meaning. Chow has been a politician for 28 years, first as a school trustee, then a councillor, and, as of 2006, the MP for Trinity-Spadina. For politicians, a face is not just a thing you park in front of a computer in the morning and show to the family at night. A politician meets new people, all day, every day, and people are inquisitive, and not all of them have tact.

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Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne are running for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership

Glen-Murray-Kathleen-Wynne-Ontario-Liberal-leadershipThe race to be the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party is now, finally, an actual race. Three weeks quietly passed following Dalton McGuinty’s resignation as Ontario’s premier before any of his political brethren launched a leadership bid. Then, in the space of 24 hours, a pair of contenders revealed their candidacy: Toronto-Centre MPP Glen Murray broke the silence Sunday night and Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne will follow suit early this evening. Wynne already received an endorsement from Liberal caucus member David Zimmer, who tweeted his early approval, while Murray had former RIM CEO Jim Balsillie and former health minister and failed mayoral candidate George Smitherman in the crowd when he announced his bid at Maple Leaf Gardens. At this very early juncture, we’re going to say Wynne’s off to the better start, purely from PR perspective. Having Balsillie and Smitherman’s support would be a certain boon for a politician mounting a leadership bid back in 2007. Today, we’re not so sure.

(Images: Glen Murray, Shaun Merritt; Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

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The Moment: Dalton McGuinty’s emergency exit

The Moment: McGuinty’s Emergency Exit

(Image: George Pimentel)

During his nine years as premier, Dalton McGuinty displayed a magical ability to maintain the squeaky clean persona of Premier Dad—that smiling paternalist whose ramrod-straight affect evoked a grown-up Michael Cera in a suit—while all hell broke loose around him. The eHealth boondoggle may have cost David Caplan his cabinet post and spiked George Smitherman’s run for mayor, but it never stuck to McGuinty. The same goes for the ORNGE scandal, from which McGuinty walked away with hardly a scratch. Over the past few months, Energy Minister Chris Bentley has become the public face of the cancelled power plants fiasco, and Education Minister Laurel Broten has morphed into the teachers’ favourite super­-villain. Of course, you don’t stay premier for three terms without knowing how to bob and weave, but McGuinty’s decision to lock up the legislature as he stepped down was the first time he’s taken a direct hit for his party rather than the other way around. The unions will eventually settle, the Liberals will elect a new leader, and life will go on. McGuinty’s lasting image as premier, however, will be marred by the ignominious way he went out.

 

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Reaction Roundup: Premier Dalton McGuinty steps down and adjourns the legislature

(Image: Communitech Photos)

We’ve never really thought of Dalton McGuinty as a big-surprises kind of guy, but Premier Dad shocked the province last night by announcing his resignation as party leader—and the prorogation of the legislature. Today, most of Toronto is speculating about why McGuinty stepped down, and where, politically, the province goes from here. We rounded up the main threads of the discussion, including who might replace him, whether McGuinty has federal leadership aspirations and what Rob Ford thinks about it all.

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QUOTED: George Smitherman predicts whether Rob Ford will win a second term

I suspect his chances at re-election are extraordinarily good, because even though he’s not exactly living up to everyone’s dreams of what a mayor ought to look like, and how a mayor ought to act and project himself, it’s working for a good cluster of folks.

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The man who raised millions for George Smitherman’s campaign is helping get Rob Ford re-elected

(Image: Ryerson)

It’s no secret Rob Ford is thinking ahead to the 2014 election—and now he has landed fundraising veteran Ralph Lean to help. Lean, a Bay Street lawyer, gushed over the mayor’s budget and labour victories in the Globe and Mail this weekend and confirmed that he’ll head up Ford’s fundraising team (a job he has done for various mayoral candidates since 1980). Most recently, Lean helped rake in more than $2.17 million for George Smitherman’s failed run against Ford and was partially responsible for that strange “unity dinner” that helped several candidates, including Ford, clear their campaign debts. It’s a coup for Ford, who only raised $1.08 million in 2010. That said, Lean has his detractors, who say he exaggerates his abilities and doesn’t always deliver. [Globe and Mail]

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The weirdest mayoralty ever—the inside story of Rob Ford’s city hall

Loyal councillors have defied him. His approval ratings have plummeted. And his powerful Conservative backers are nervous. How did it all go so wrong? The strange story of Rob Ford’s city hall

The Incredible Shrinking Mayor

On Newstalk 1010, the sly strains of the Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” offered the first clue. Then morning host Jerry Agar burst on the air with a surprise announcement: Rob Ford and his councillor sibling Doug were taking over the station’s Sunday afternoon talk-fest, The City. For the once-staid CFRB, landing the boisterous brother act that Margaret Atwood had puckishly dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” was clearly a coup, but that didn’t answer the more obvious question: why on earth would the Fords want to spend two more hours a week in front of an open microphone when they were hardly suffering from a lack of media exposure?

Rob Ford, after all, ranks as one of the most compelling and exhaustively chronicled figures in Canadian politics, adored and despised with equal gusto. His every pronouncement seems to turn into front-page fodder, his every grimace and belly scratch catalogued by rapt photographers. And who could forget the YouTube footage of comedian Mary Walsh arriving in his driveway, decked out with a velvet breastplate and a plastic sword?

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Rob Ford opts out of attending a “gentle” and “welcoming” gay outreach event

(Image: Ryan)

Rob Ford has remained non-committal about whether or not he’d forgo all Pride events this year (we believe his exact words were “We’ll see”), but he has confirmed he won’t be attending an outreach event leading up to the festivities. Ford’s office told organizers that he simply can’t squeeze in a flag raising at city hall on May 17 to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The event had seemed like the safest bet for a mayoral appearance since it’s usually quite low-key (and Brian Burke would be there, so they could talk about hockey if Ford felt uncomfortable). Kristyn Wong-Tam, who has suggested the mayor is just shy, not homophobic, told the Globe and Mail that the mayor’s presence at the “gentle” and “welcoming” event “might have taken the question away about whether or not he supports the LGBT community.” Instead, skipping out on the flag raising, plus keeping silent while Sun News Network host David Menzies makes bizarre comments about George Smitherman’s sexuality on Ford’s radio show, is keeping those questions very much alive. [Globe and Mail]

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