News / Toronto

Olivia Chow resisting calls to run against Rob Ford in 2014

Political advisers to NDP MP Olivia Chow are urging her to run against Mayor Rob Ford in 2014 but, so far at least, she is ruling out a return to municipal politics.

Joe Cressy, a close family friend and Chow’s campaign co-chair in the 2011 federal election, is among those asking Chow to consider it.

“I’ve thought for many years that Olivia would be a very strong mayor,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “She has broad appeal across the city, in the suburbs and downtown, she has experience at multiple levels of government, she knows how to bring people together and drive policy, but she’s also a very strong campaigner.

“It’s clear that Ford isn’t up to the job. I believe it’s time for an adult to be in charge.”

Cressy said he raised the issue last week with Chow. The Trinity-Spadina MP, former Toronto councillor and stepmother of Councillor Mike Layton, said “No.”

In an email to the Star from Ottawa, she wrote: “No I am not running for mayor. My focus is in Ottawa where I’m standing up to (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper and trying to get more of our tax dollar back to the city for transit and infrastructure projects.”

Left-leaning Toronto councillors Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll are both seriously considering taking on the staunchly right-wing Ford.

Some associates of radio host and former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory are urging him to run. Tory, who lost to David Miller in the 2003 mayoral election and considered running in 2010, is neither encouraging them nor closing the door.

Carroll said she would be happy to chat with any other progressive potential candidates, and she doesn’t buy the theory that having more than one candidate from the left will split the vote and hand Ford another victory.

Cressy, however, suggested the left may settle on one, best candidate.

“Given the experience of a Rob Ford city, it’s unlikely in my mind that there will be more than one progressive on the slate,” he said.

Layton has heard about the pressure on his stepmother to run but said, “the only advice I could give her is we’ve both got lots to focus on in 2013.”

Jack Layton, his father and Chow’s late partner, was a longtime Toronto councillor and mayoral candidate in 1991.

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