So, some sixteen months after resigning office to run for mayor of Toronto, Olivia Chow is seeking a return to federal politics, announcing last week her intention to run in her old but re-jigged riding of Trinity-Spadina.
I’m not at all sure how I feel about that but mostly it just doesn’t feel right.
This coming from someone who has voted for Olivia Chow at every given opportunity. As city councillor when I lived in her ward. As a member of parliament in 1997, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011. As mayor in last year’s unsuccessful mayoral bid. I think it’s safe to say I’ve voted for Olivia Chow more than any other politician.
And I’m not sure that would be the case this time around.
It’s not like I’ve got any problems with this concept of ‘career politicians’ either. If someone dedicates their lives to public service, and does so with the best of intentions of contributing to a wider public good, my hat’s off to them. Do it as long as you’re able, you’re dutiful and have the confidence of a majority of your constituents.
That’s not what this is about.
I just wish if Olivia wanted to stay and work in Ottawa, she would’ve stayed and worked in Ottawa. Thanking those supporters pushing her to run for mayor of Toronto, she’d decline their exhortations, insisting that the federal level was where she felt she could be most effective. All humble and grateful for their belief in her but holding firm in taking a pass.
Olivia Chow’s entry into the race for mayor last year (not to mention the months and months of speculation beforehand) drastically altered the landscape. It pushed at least two other very capable candidacies to the sidelines in an effort to keep the left of centre side united. In essence, Chow was anointed, seen as the saviour to move Toronto on from the tumultuous Ford years.
And then she went and dropped the ball, doing a terrible, terrible job. Why? I can offer nothing but pure speculation. Bad advice? Unable to maintain a strong city-wide campaign? No compelling narrative beyond We Can Do Better? A combination of a bunch of weaknesses?
Her quick jump back into federal politics suggests another possible reason for her mayoral crash and burn. Maybe her heart just wasn’t in it. It was nothing more than an opportunity, an opportunity with a fallback position of returning to Ottawa if things didn’t work out. Maybe John Tory’s team was right. Maybe Olivia Chow was just another NDP candidate. Mayor. M.P. Whatevs.
I wish Olivia would’ve stuck around after her municipal defeat last October to help rebuild the progressive side of the political equation her campaign helped splinter. To assist in figuring out how enough self-proclaimed progressive voters concluded someone like John Tory was moderate enough for them. To be a part of a different team that puts the city and not a party first.
Perhaps she still will. It’s hardly guaranteed she can defeat the Liberal incumbent, Adam Vaughan, who took the riding after Chow resigned her seat. With the re-drawing of Trinity-Spadina, the demographics may skew less in her favour than it once did. Still, it’s hard to see the election battle between the two playing out as anything less than a titanic struggle.
All I do know is that, because of the new riding configurations, I’ll be spared the tough decision of whether or not to vote against Olivia Chow. It wasn’t something I ever had to think much about doing before. That’s a little bit sad.
— frowningly submitted by Cityslikr
Went to some of the Mid-Summer Mayoral Debates last Summer.
Asked a question about TorontoHydro’s regular Black-Outs, #DarkTO – and the $40+ Million Dollar a year Dividend TO-Hydro pays to the City.
Douggie was a “no show”, Soknacki & Tory gave smart-answers that appeared to show some knowledge of the Infrastructure Problems and the structural-issues around TO-Hydro/City relationship…
Chow (*sadly) was like a Deer-in-the-Headlights…mouthed some platitudes about “the people” and “public-consultation” for a minute or so…but was clearly out-of-her-depth on any issue that wasn’t a core part of her Campaign-Pitch.
Not my Riding, but I hope that Vaughan keeps his seat – because he seems to have as pretty good grasp of the MANY issues that effect the Toronto-core…beyond just child-care.
In the Bigger-Picture, the NDP & Liberals BOTH running “High Profile” candidates against one another in the SAME Riding is one of the things that makes me loathe the “Team Colours” aspect of Party-Politics in Canada. Grrrrr…!
Mark, you make some excellent points. Now let me counter.
In municipal government the candidate needs to be a jack of all trades. After all it is a more hands on be all things to all people position.
Going two levels up the chain of command to the federal level might require being more specialized.
You won’t be directly serving every little need for your constituence.
You need to focus on a few specialties as a minister or critic of a certain field while serving the entire country in this capacity.
So maybe Olivia is better suited as a specialist in federal government.
Shortly after filing my nomination papers in 2010…
I privately asked then outgoing Mayor David Miller how it might theoretically be possible for me to win.
Without a beat, and in sincerity, he answered through his trademark smile…
“…then put your Heart and Soul into it.”
For the rest of the campaign, nothing else mattered.
She won more election races than she lost so she is a high profile NDP candidate!