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George Smitherman

Political Figure & Community Activist

George Smitherman is sought-after for his advice and recognized as one of Canada’s leading public policy voices, having been active in public life as a grassroots organizer and community activist, an elected official and senior advisor at the local, provincial and federal level, spanning more than 30 years.

Presentations

Harnessing Capitalism to Change the World
George shares his belief in government as a vehicle that can address the most fundamental challenges we face as a society, and highlights the application of his personal values in community-based activism to foster the acknowledgement of equality in our society.

Leadership
More than anything else George believes that great leadership requires courage. George’s track record shows that he made the most of the time that he had available in any particular role he had. By asking question after question and applying his own logic and instinct he determined a path forward, put his shoulder down and marching into the wind.

Personal: Diversity, Parenting and Addiction
His background is unique and compelling with experiences such as Gay Marriage, Drug Use, Didn’t go to University, Gay Adoption (x2). George is able to draw on his personal experiences to offer audiences a liberating perspective.

Awards

OSEA World Wind Energy Award (2009), OSEA Community Power Leader Award (2009). Kenneth Langford Lifetime Membership Award (2008), The Living Institute Cultural innovator Award (2008)

Summary Profile

George Smitherman is sought-after for his advice and recognized as one of Canada’s leading public policy voices, having been active in public life as a grassroots organizer and community activist, an elected official and senior advisor at the local, provincial and federal level, spanning more than 30 years.

From his days in primary school until today, George Smitherman has enjoyed public speaking and storytelling. And what a story to tell, three decades in politics, a struggle with drug addiction, $250 billion in spending authority told by an openly gay, married father of two small children.

A former candidate for Toronto Mayor, George Smitherman previously served as Ontario’s Deputy Premier – a role that often saw him as the government’s leading spokesperson on many of the most contentious issues facing the province. Elected 3 times as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre, George served in both opposition and on the McGuinty Government’s front bench. During his time in Cabinet, he was responsible for the allocation of more than $250 billion Canadian Dollars.

George was one of Ontario’s longest serving Ministers of Health and Long-Term Care, holding the portfolio from 2003-2008. Widely viewed as the most transformative health minister in a generation, George brought drug spending and hospital budgets under control while at the same time dramatically reducing medical wait times to the lowest in Canada. His tenure brought significantly improved access to doctors and nurses. Ontario’s Family Health Team model, which serves more than 3 million Ontarians, was pioneered during this period.

In 2008, George was appointed Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, where he shepherded the passage of Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act, internationally recognized as a leading piece of renewable energy legislation, and which has allowed Ontario to emerge as North America’s renewable energy leader, producing billions of dollars in new investment and thousands of green energy jobs in the province.

During this same period, George lead negotiations with the Government of Canada on a massive infrastructure stimulus program, provoked by the global financial crisis.

Before his election in 1999, George owned and operated a small business in downtown Toronto. Following his unplanned retirement from politics, George has returned to his entrepreneurial roots as Chairman and Principal of G&G Global Solutions