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George Smitherman promises candour in new book
Antonella Artuso
Published:
May 12, 2019
Updated:
May 12, 2019 7:35 PM EDT
George Smitherman poses while running for city council last fall. (Jack Boland, Toronto Sun)
George Smitherman was never shy about speaking his mind.
Unconventional Candour, written in collaboration with former Toronto Star editor and columnist Ian Urquhart, chronicles his start as the son of a trucker in Etobicoke to a powerful provincial politician to distant second-place finisher in the last City of Toronto municipal campaign.
On the way, there was joy and tragedy, success and scandal.
George Smitherman’s new book, Unconventional Candour. (Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun)
The book offers some startling revelations about the often controversial politician, including an admission that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford was not the only 2010 mayoral candidate who’d tried crack cocaine, and also that the former Liberal health minister does not blame himself for the eHealth and Ornge Air Ambulance scandals that rocked his government.
The book is written in the first person, perfect for a man who never needed other people’s words put in his mouth:
Early Party Scene: “Quitting anything can be tough and cocaine had a real grip on me. The lowest point came when my cocaine tastes trended from powder to crack … In my experience, the crack-cocaine high is unrivalled in its euphoria … I had many false starts on the path to sobriety aided by professional help, willpower and cardio exercise.”
Historic Win: “I was now at age 35 and in my 20th year in politics as an elected representative, the first ever openly gay member of the Ontario legislature, and as I like to say, only the 200th gay member in history!”
Health Minister Appointment: “I was sworn in as minister of health in the first Liberal government in Ontario for 13 years … It was heady territory for the son of a trucker from Etobicoke with no post-secondary degree and no experience in cabinet.”
Furious George: “To say I was driven was an understatement and sometimes my passion alone wasn’t enough to excuse my excesses. About 20% of the time I went beyond what could be described as just ‘passionate’ and resorted to yelling at staff or just generally.”
eHealth and Ornge: “I stand indirectly accused by the province’s auditor general of wasting $1.64 billion in taxpayers’ money on the two agencies … What the whole episode shows is that if you expose over a billion dollars in spending to a team of accountants with a snarly disposition and a jaundiced way of thinking, you could make anything look like a pile of cow dung.”
Big Brother: “The lowest point in the (2010 mayoral) campaign, aside from losing, involved my very estranged older brother Art who was manipulated into endorsing (Rob) Ford. Naturally the Toronto Sun put Art on its front page … My first instinct was to kick the newspaper box over but I somehow restrained myself.”
Widower: “Sad as it is to say, it was pretty much clear that at some point (Christopher) would take his own life, and we had this conversation very openly in the company of his, and later my, psychiatrist. She reminded us that if a person wishes to die, we are quite powerless to stop it … That same meeting with the psychiatrist was our only real conversation about the underlying trauma that made Christopher’s life so tormented … He had been sexually abused at the hands of a trusted figure in his youth.”
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Fatherhood: “The truth is that Christopher’s death revealed to me that without Michael and Kayla I am nothing. Their existence is my sole purpose in life.”
(Source: George Smitherman Unconventional Candour, Dundurn Press)
aartuso@postmedia.com
http://torontosun.com/news/provincia...ur-in-new-book