Toronto election: Olivia Chow resigns as MP to launch Toronto mayoral bid on Thursday

Toronto election: Olivia Chow resigns as MP to launch Toronto mayoral bid on Thursday
Longtime councillor will leave House of Commons on Wednesday before entering race as main left-leaning challenger to incumbent Rob Ford.
By: Daniel Dale City Hall, Published on Tue Mar 11 2014
Olivia Chow resigned her seat in the House of Commons on Wednesday, a day before she will launch her Toronto mayoral campaign, according to two campaign sources.
Chow, a New Democrat who represents Trinity-Spadina, will become the first left-leaning challenger to incumbent Rob Ford. Her long-expected entry likely completes the field of major candidates.

Chow’s campaign will emphasize her personal story, which she told in a bestselling autobiography that has kept her in the public eye during her extended pre-campaign. Her launch will be held in a church in St. James Town, the dense, low-income neighbourhood of highrises where her family lived after emigrating from Hong Kong in 1970.
Chow has led in most polls over the last year. The latest, a late-February survey from Forum Research, put her in a tie with Ford and gave her a slight lead over John Tory, the leading challenger on the right.
Chow organizers say she will offer an unabashed contrast to the policy stances of Ford, a conservative populist. Tory, the former Progressive Conservative leader, and Karen Stintz, the right-leaning city councillor, have promised to be more effective and respectful than Ford, but they too have emphasized their desire for low taxes.
“This campaign will be about electing a new mayor to create a better city. It will be a change campaign — a campaign focused on not just replacing Rob Ford but replacing his failed agenda,” a Chow organizer who asked for anonymity said on Tuesday.
“Tory and Stintz have not articulated an agenda, or a clear contrast with Rob Ford. And coming out of the gate, you will see Olivia articulate an agenda. One that is bold, one that is surprising, one that speaks to her values and her personal story in the city of Toronto.”
Chow has not yet expressed specific positions on many major municipal issues, from transit expansion to the outsourcing of garbage collection; as an MP, she has called for a national transit strategy and greater federal investment in infrastructure. The Chow organizer said she will not release a complete platform immediately but will outline her policy preferences more quickly than Tory and Stintz.
Chow is known across the country as the wife of late NDP leader Jack Layton. A former school trustee, she made her name in Toronto as an effective progressive organizer on council, serving for 14 years until 2005. She was the city’s official advocate for children under right-leaning mayor Mel Lastman.
Stintz has said that Chow is an “NDP candidate” who subscribes to the “tax-and-spend” approach of Ford’s left-leaning predecessor, David Miller. Tory’s campaign described her as a free-spending partisan in its initial attack early Wednesday.
“John has built his career bringing people from across party lines together to deliver results, and that’s exactly what he will do as mayor of Toronto. Neither Mayor Ford nor Ms. Chow can be trusted to do that. With respect to Ms. Chow, she’s never met a public dollar she couldn’t spend,” said spokeswoman Amanda Galbraith. “We welcome the contrast with John, who is committed to keeping taxes low and building a more livable, affordable, functional city.”
The Chow organizer said she will turn to her biography to attempt to respond to such attacks once she registers, contrasting her own humble roots with the inherited wealth of Ford and Tory.
“I learned the value of a dollar the hard way,” the organizer said, previewing Chow’s message. “I came here when I was 13 years old. We had to watch every penny, nickel and dime. It wasn’t easy. But those same values, that same value of a dollar, I will always bring to government. Where did you learn the value of a dollar?”
Despite their vastly divergent political philosophies, Chow and Ford will compete for some of the same voters. Ford has been popular with some of the immigrants and poor communities who have traditionally sided with the left, and he is relatively strong in Scarborough, which has a substantial Chinese-Canadian community. Chow has only gently criticized Ford’s behaviour, saying her grandchildren deserve a better role model.
Chow’s campaign will be managed by veteran John Laschinger, who has run campaigns for Miller and top provincial and federal Conservatives. Warren Kinsella, the veteran Liberal strategist, is also involved.
Chow has been endorsed by George Smitherman — the Liberal who was defeated by Ford in 2010 — and filmmaker Deepa Mehta, among others.
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