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Smitherman eyes run for Bob Rae’s seat

George Smitherman.
George Smitherman. Handout

TORONTO — Only days after former interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae announced he was stepping away from politics, former Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman says he is considering seeking the nomination.

“The prospect of a return to politics has been in play for a long time,” Smitherman told Globalnews.ca on Friday.

“When your best political territory opens up then it’s quite logical that you give it hard thought.”

Smitherman served Toronto Centre — the riding Rae currently represents at the federal level — as an MPP from 1999 to 2010. He was appointed Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and, later, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure by then-premier Dalton McGuinty.

“I know the people, I know the story,” said Smitherman, who challenged Rob Ford for the Toronto mayor’s job in 2010. That race, he admitted, “beat the love of politics out of me for awhile.”

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Smitherman, 49, said he and his husband Christopher Peloso have spent months contemplating the impact another political run would have on their family. The parents of a three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son have already started looking at homes in the riding. (They lived in the heart of Toronto Centre before moving to the Hillcrest Park area.)

In an interview with Globalnews.ca last September, Smitherman said he didn’t have any plans to return to politics. “It’s not in my heart,” he said at the time. But, the co-founder of consulting firm G&G Global Solutions, left the door open. “Politics has been a big part of my life since I was 15 so there will always be opportunities to re-enter politics.”

Smitherman said Friday those opportunities included the possibility of a mayoral by-election last fall and the Ontario Liberal Party leadership contest — both of which brought a return to politics “into sharper focus.”

The prime minister must call a by-election within six months of a seat being declared vacant.

Other names being mentioned to replace Rae include veteran TV personality Seamus O’Regan and former Michael Ignatieff staffer Sachin Aggarwal.

Smitherman said he expects a number of people to run. “That’s quite exciting,” he said of the challenge.

“If I set my mind and my resources to it, I would be successful.”

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