Olivia Chow picks up steam for possible Toronto mayoral run

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew
NDP MP Olivia Chow writes on a wall full of tributes to her husband Jack Layton in Toronto before a memorial event dedicated to the former NDP leader.

Toronto’s mayoral election hasn’t even official begun, but the campaigning is well underway, with one name continually rising to the surface. Alright, two names. Because Mayor Rob Ford continues to look forward to the Oct. 27, 2014, election at every opportunity.

The other name is Olivia Chow, the current NDP MP and widow of Jack Layton whose name is frequently and consistently linked to a possible mayoral bid.

Two other candidates, David Soknacki and Coun. Karen Stintz, have already made official their intentions to run and others such as former Ontario PC leader John Tory are rarely far from the headlines. But the name that receives the most attention is Chow. Despite not making a run official, she continues to receive high polling numbers and collect key endorsements toward that end.

According to the Toronto Sun's Don Peat, Soknacki addressed Chow’s hovering presence during a speech at a morning Public Progress event.

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There is reason for Soknacki to address Chow as a contender. Public polls and surveys have identified her as a key threat to Ford’s re-election chances. The latest Ipsos Reid poll suggests 36 per cent of Toronto would back Chow, with Ford received 20 per cent support. The same poll suggests Soknacki is sitting at three per cent supports.

The Toronto Star reports that, despite not being officially in the hunt, Chow has collected several notable endorsements. Oscar-winning director Deepa Mehta has publicly supported her and former mayoral candidate George Smitherman called her a "pragmatic progressive" who has the experience to make a difference.

“She’s got a maturity about her that allows you to have a relationship even in the instance that maybe you’re not 100 per cent aligned,” Smitherman told the newspaper. “I think this is important. That even in the circumstances when you have differences of opinion, she conducts herself in a respectful way, and wouldn’t play the game of shutting people out or not taking meetings or vilifying them.”

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Chow told the Globe and Mail she was "seriously considering running for mayor," but had not made a final decision. Beyond that, she has remained relatively mum on the issue, but her duties as a Toronto Member of Parliament has kept her connected to the city.

But there is still plenty of time for Chow to join the race. In fact, candidates cannot actually register until Jan. 2, 2014. That is the first official day of a 10-month campaign that culminates with a city-wide vote on Oct. 27, 2014.

Sources told the Globe that if Chow runs she would not enter the race until February.

That would still give her plenty of time to spread her message, and likely wouldn't stop many in the race from dragging her name into debate before that.