Former MPP Smitherman hosts leadership town hall meeting

In the first of a series of live one hour panel discussions, former Ontario minister and 2010 mayoral candidate George Smitherman will lead a town hall discussion on whether Toronto's political leaders have "failed the city".

The Direct Engagement Show series kicks off Tuesday hosted by Smitherman, a self-proclaimed panelist provocateur and "host with a history."

The series will feature panelists such as Coun. Gord Perks, Coun. Karen Stintz, chair of the TTC, and Doc von Lichtenberg, owner of Doc's Leathers.

Smitherman, the former Ontario deputy premier and health minister, was perceived as the frontrunner throughout much of the 2010 Toronto mayoral campaign, but ended up finishing second to Rob Ford by a wide margin.

Smitherman appeared on CBC's Metro Morning Tuesday and was asked whether he was using the series as a springboard for other ambitions – such as another potential run for mayor.

"I think I’ve been clear to say that I won’t look for any more opportunities to spend time in the presence of Mayor Ford," said Smitherman.

"In the context of a possible byelection, or in the context of the next mayoral election, I’m not going to be a candidate."

Smitherman told CBC's Matt Galloway that leadership is one of the issues that the city is struggling with especially pertaining to transport.

He said that the issue is not necessarily the mayor, but a weak mayoral system.

"Not the agenda that he’s advanced. He’s had some successes there for sure, but the idea that a mayor could slip off frequently from important meetings to coach football and that doesn’t cause popular uprising."

The upcoming monthly shows are scheduled to discuss casinos and Ontario’s reliance on nuclear power. Tuesday's venue will be a restaurant at Shaw and College called Revival.

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