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McGuinty federal leadership run would be a ‘surprise:’ Smitherman

Dalton McGuinty’s former right-hand man says he’d be surprised to see the Ontario premier throw his hat into the ring in the federal Liberal leadership race.

On Tuesday, former Ontario deputy premier and former Toronto mayoral candidate George Smitherman responded to McGuinty’s surprise announcement Monday evening that he plans to step down.

“Whether premier McGuinty has an interest in the federal leadership, I don’t know,” Smitherman told Breakfast Television. “It would surprise me frankly to see him re-enter at a different level.”

Read full coverage of the McGuinty announcement

Smitherman said he currently has no intention of running for the provincial Liberal leadership himself. He said he’s focused on raising his two young children.

Aside from announcing his intentions to resign, McGuinty also prorogued the legislature amid a power plant scandal, heated debate on a proposed public sector wage freeze and recently-launched court challenges to his teachers’ wage freeze legislation, Bill 115.

Smitherman said he doesn’t think the move will rattle the public.

“I’m really not that sure that the public is going to riot in the streets about something that they can’t pronounce and certainly can’t spell,” he said.

Thousands of people across Canada attended rallies, including a large protest at Yonge-Dundas Square, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper halted business in the House of Commons in January 2010 to focus on economic issues facing the country.