Olivia Chow denies being offered Lieutenant-Governor post, keeps Toronto mayoral speculation alive

NDP MP Olivia Chow writes on a wall of tributes to her husband Jack Layton in Toronto.

NDP MP Olivia Chow has not officially entered the Toronto mayoral race, but she did offer a rare indication on Monday that it could be just a matter of time.

Chow has denied a report that Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered her a job as Ontario's next Lieutenant-Governor — a move that would remove her from the race and certainly benefit Mayor Rob Ford, a Harper ally.

“It seems the rumour mill is in full force this morning. Let me be crystal clear, the reports of [a Lieutenant-Governor] offer are completely false,” Chow wrote on Twitter this morning.

The denial comes in response to a blog post by The Agenda's Steve Paikin, in which he confirmed being told that the offer had been made. Paikin said he previously asked Chow about it and she had dodged the question.

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Paikin also has this to say about the political fallout from Harper's "clever offer":

If Chow accepted the appointment, that would dramatically simplify Ford's efforts to win re-election, since (possible candidates John) Tory, (Karen) Stintz, (Denzil) Minnan-Wong, and (David) Soknacki are all essentially from the same part of the political spectrum as Ford.

...

Without a strong centre-left candidate in the race, all those other would-be candidates will split the centre-right vote with Ford, who no doubt thinks he can count on his loyal supporters to win that fight.

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Chow is a presumed favourite if and when she enters the race. Recent polls suggest she is the main threat to Ford's re-election strategy. Had she been offered and accepted the appointment, it would drastically change the way Toronto’s 2014 municipal election would play out. Her denial makes it all the more likely that it's only a matter of time before she enters the race officially.

Ford filed his paperwork last week, becoming the first person to enter the mayoral race. Stintz, the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, says she will wait until the agency's budget process is complete before stepping down from her post and entering the race. Neither Minnan-Wong nor Tory have made their candidacy official.

Minnan-Wong was a former ally of Ford's who took a hard line against his drug exploits in recent months. He may be waiting for the full field to emerge before weighing his options and making a final decision.

Tory is the former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and a radio host on Newstalk 1010. The Toronto Star previously reported that a long-time ally has said that, should Tory choose to run, he would likely wait until February to make the decision. He would quit his hosting job in February and officially launch his campaign in March, the adviser told the newspaper.

Soknacki, meantime, is the only other known entity to have officially entered the campaign. The former Scarborough councillor officially entered the race on Monday morning, running on a platform of ethics and transparency. He recently posted a column calling for a return of civility to the discourse at city hall.

The field of Toronto mayoral candidates is slowly emerging. Soknacki has declared and Chow has denied considering another job. The pieces continue to slide into place.

Photo via CBC.

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