Stuart Lyon Smith
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|Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party|
|Preceded by||Robert Nixon|
|Succeeded by||David Peterson|
|Leader of the Opposition|
|Preceded by||Stephen Lewis|
|Succeeded by||Robert Nixon|
|Preceded by||Jack McNie|
|Succeeded by||Richard Allen|
May 7, 1938 |
Stuart Lyon Smith (born May 7, 1938) is a politician, psychiatrist, academic and public servant in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1975 to 1982, and led the Ontario Liberal Party for most of this period.
Background and early career
Smith was born in Montreal, Quebec, and graduated in medicine from McGill University. He later taught as a Professor of Medicine for several years from 1967 to 1975 at McMaster Medical School in Hamilton, Ontario. He withdrew his name from the nomination process in the riding of Mount Royal to allow Pierre Trudeau to run without strong opposition for the 1965 federal Liberal nomination. Trudeau won the next election and went on to become the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Prime Minister of Canada.
Smith was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the Ontario Liberal Party in the 1975 provincial election, defeating Progressive Conservative candidate and future mayor Bob Morrow by 542 votes in Hamilton West. Liberal leader Robert Nixon announced his retirement after the election, and Smith entered the leadership contest to succeed him. He built a support base on the left wing of the party, and was sometimes compared to Pierre Trudeau in his appearance and mannerisms. He finished in first place on the first ballot, and defeated the more right-wing David Peterson by forty-five votes on the second ballot to become the party's new leader.
Leader of the Opposition
The Liberals lost one seat in the legislature in the 1977 election, but nonetheless displaced the New Democratic Party as the Official Opposition to William Davis's Progressive Conservatives. Smith became Leader of the Opposition in the legislative sitting that followed.
As a politician, Smith had a reputation as an intelligent but dry and somewhat aloof personality, in a province that had grown accustomed to avuncular leaders. His criticism of government spending by the government of Premier Davis, and his pessimism about their election promises, prompted the Conservatives to nickname him Dr. No - a label which also referred to his background as a psychiatrist. He also had difficulty managing members of his caucus, many of whom supported right-wing positions on policy issues.
The Liberals made little progress in the 1981 election, returning again with 34 seats while the Tories regained a majority government. One of Smith's few successes was in the city of Toronto, where popular support for the Liberal Party increased under his leadership. He resigned as leader after the election, and left the legislature in January 1982, a month before the leadership convention that chose David Peterson as his successor.
In January 1982, he began a term as chairman of the Science Council of Canada, a federal government body, which he led until 1987.
A year after leaving the Council, he founded RockCliffe Research and Technology Inc., a firm which introduced public-private partnerships into government laboratories. From 1995 to 2002, he was chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
In 1994, Smith proposed the creation of a private-sector water company in the City of Hamilton. His stated goal was to develop an industry in the city which would be able to develop contracts on a global level. The city managers agreed to his plan, but insisted that Philip Services oversee the project. Smith consented, and was named as the founding president of the Philip Utilities Management Corporation (PUMC). The company eventually was able to reduce by half the workforce from the city's former public utility, and was once blamed by the union for a sewage overflow.
The company successfully broke into the American market in Seattle in 1996. Smith left soon afterwards. PUMC itself was then sold on the basis of an evaluation of approximately $150 million, while the parent company collapsed when it acknowledged that it had significantly overstated earnings from its copper-trading business. Philip Services stock options became worthless; as these were a significant portion of Smith's remuneration, he failed to receive much benefit from the financial success of his company, PUMC. "If anybody is bitter about the Philip experience, I am", he was later quoted as saying.