By MICHAEL DEN TANDT The Owen Sound Sun Times
George Smitherman, say it ain’t so. Just kidding.
Smitherman has long been considered one of Ontario’s strongest politicians. He’s smart, charismatic and has the courage of his convictions. He knows you can’t make a soufflé without breaking an egg or two.
Which is why it’s a really good thing for the people of Ontario that Smitherman is finally (as has long been rumoured and denied) setting his cap for the mayoralty of Toronto. And leaving the rest of us alone.
Smitherman could be a winner in Toronto. He has an excellent shot at getting elected mayor, particularly if his opponent is never-say-die-even-whenyou’re-dead John Tory.
Let’s face it. David Miller’s New Broom turned out to be more of an old mop. Maybe Toronto needs a take-no-prisoners mayor.
But for small-town and rural Ontario, George Smitherman has been a disaster.
Smitherman was Minister of Health as the eHealth debacle unfolded. That cost us, the taxpayer, a tidy billion dollars. The goal was to make health care more efficient, using computers. Is health care more efficient, using computers? No, it isn’t.
Do we have anything at all to show for all that money spent, most of it on Smitherman’s watch? No, we don’t.
Then there’s the Green Energy Act, and wind power.
Wind power is George Smitherman’s baby. He is unshakably, theologically certain that massive clusters of industrial turbines should cover the rural Ontario landscape.
Smitherman is wrong in this persuasion. Many people have told him he is wrong. But with George S., that doesn’t hold any water. He has the courage of his convictions.
Smitherman’s leap into Toronto politics gives Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government a golden opportunity to step back from its wind power obsession and actually take the time to properly investigate the health concerns around these turbines.
It gives the government a chance to take a deep breath and consider whether big industrial wind power, with its spotty reliability and negative environmental impact (the destruction of landscape) is worth the cost.
Let’s hope McGuinty seizes that opportunity.