TORONTO - Toronto mayoralty candidate George Smitherman says if he is elected to the post in October, Toronto Hydro will not be sold off.

Selling the utility, and other public assets, has been touted by some as a way of raising money for the city.

But Smitherman, a former Ontario energy minister, says privatizing Toronto Hydro would be as "shortsighted as it is wrong."

He says anyone advocating the sale of Toronto Hydro does not understand that controlling this strategic asset is more important now than ever.

In a speech to the Green Living Show in Toronto, Smitherman said the utility is essential to helping the city achieve a green and clean energy future.

He added that a privatized Toronto Hydro would be more interested in making money for shareholders and not in finding innovative ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and deadly smog.

"Toronto Hydro makes us money and the sale of public assets rarely benefit the end user," the former deputy premier said Friday.

"Over the past five years, Toronto Hydro has paid $302 million in dividends and interest to the City of Toronto."

Smitherman said that money is used to help pay for essential services.