Ont. health minister to marry gay partner Sunday
TORONTO - Ontario's first openly gay cabinet minister only has just one day of bachelorhood left before he takes himself off the market.
Health Minister George Smitherman is tying the knot with his partner Christopher Peloso on Sunday at a lakeside lodge near Sudbury, Ont., before 202 close friends.
With the imminent end of his freedom in sight, the colourful and gregarious deputy premier said he wasn't nervous about anything -- except the co-operation of Mother Nature.
"But I can't control that,'' said Smitherman, 43.
After talking about having a "shotgun wedding'' if the federal Conservatives reversed the country's law allowing same-sex marriage, Smitherman made his engagement public in February.
He has joked about the need to get in shape for the big day to avoid wearing a "Homer Simpson inspired muumuu.''
Training for a recent three-day charity bike ride from Toronto to Kingston, Ont., took care of any excess weight and Smitherman said he's both mentally and physically ready to get hitched to 33-year-old Peloso.
"It's going to be great,'' he said in an interview. "I'm really excited about it. It's going to be fantastic.''
Smitherman popped the question to Peloso over Christmas by giving him a cream-coloured tuxedo with a wedding invitation in the pocket. Initially, Smitherman said the couple tried to keep the guest list to 130 people but ended up with over 200 invitees, Smitherman said.
"But imagine how big the wedding would have been in Toronto,'' said Smitherman, who holds the downtown Toronto riding for the Liberals.
"I'm old. I've been around for a long time and I know a lot of people.''
Despite the large number of friends and family, Smitherman said the couple is keeping the ceremony low-key with "no ties allowed.''
Premier Dalton McGuinty's office said he isn't attending the wedding because of a personal scheduling conflict. But McGuinty said he wishes his deputy the best of luck in married life.
"I've got nothing but the best of wishes for George,'' said McGuinty before adding, jokingly, "I'm hoping that this marriage will help him come out of his shell.''
Conservative Leader John Tory, who sent Smitherman a bottle of Pol Roger champagne when he heard of his engagement, said he was very happy for the couple.
"I like George Smitherman,'' Tory said. "We're combatants . . . (but) I know George and I've met his partner and spouse-to-be.''
That leaves Tory with only one dilemma -- what to get the newlyweds.
"You've reminded me of something I should probably address,'' Tory said, rejecting the suggestion of an ever-popular crock pot.
Smitherman first met Peloso, a manager at chocolate company Lindt Canada, 10 years ago but the two only reconnected a few years ago after dating on and off.
The newlyweds plan to honeymoon in northern Ontario briefly before Smitherman returns to Toronto to gear up for the Oct. 10 provincial election.