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Smitherman calls on Giambrone to resign from TTC

TTC Chair Adam Giambrone speaks to media and customers at Queen Street Station in Toronto, Canada on Monday, August 27, 2007. Ryan Carter / The Globe and Mail

Ryan Carter/Ryan Carter/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Mayoral front-runner George Smitherman is calling on his newest challenger, Adam Giambrone, to resign from the TTC immediately.

"This would be a very, very appropriate time for him to step aside and let somebody who's got more time focus on these pressing challenges of leadership at the TTC," Mr. Smitherman said.

But Councillor Giambrone said he had no intention of quitting his job as chair of the transit agency's board as he officially joined the race to replace David Miller Monday morning.

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"I've got a lot of unfinished work to do," Mr. Giambrone said. "We've got the customer panel reporting at the end of June ... I don't intend to let this campaign distract me from the important work as the chair of the TTC or as the local councillor."

Mr. Giambrone was referring to a blue-ribbon panel on customer service, the membership of which he is expected to unveil this week. The panel is part of his bid to repair relations with riders after a fare hike, token hoarding and a photo of a snoozing TTC collector spurred an increase in complaints.

Mr. Smitherman dismissed the panel as "too little, too late."

"That's one of these [ideas where]after the horses have left the barn we're going to have one of these public relations groups that comes in and tries to do what a governing board ought to have done in the first place," he said. "Where was the stewardship of the Toronto Transit Commission on St. Clair? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that these guys were asleep at the switch."

The former deputy premier also proposed making elected politicians a minority on the TTC's board. Right now, the board is made up of nine councillors.

"I would introduce the concept of a skills-based board, which means you actually do a professional search and find the people who have the professional expertise to manage a body that is both that big and that important," Mr. Smitherman said, adding that he would include riders among the non-politicians on the board.

Mr. Giambrone is confident he can overcome both the TTC's troubles and concerns that at 32 he's too green to be mayor.

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"Mayor isn't an entry-level job," he said. "I've been here at the city for seven years which I think is long enough to have gained some of the experience that you need to learn about how city hall works and yet not long enough to have been here too long to not be open to new ideas."

Mr. Giambrone promised to lay out his plans in more detail at his campaign launch party Monday night.

Mr. Giambrone joins a field that includes Mr. Smitherman, the former deputy premier, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, and former Liberal fundraiser and businessman Rocco Rossi, among others.

The municipal election is Oct. 25.

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Health reporter

Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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