Why Chow should run for Toronto mayor.

It is the perfect scenario. Olivia Chow steps down from her job as MP next year. She runs for Toronto mayor. Chow loses. Toronto wins. Chow retires from politics. Toronto wins.

Could you think of a better win-win situation? It might disappoint some New Democrats and leave a few pundits with egg foo yung on their face but they will certainly deserve the ridicule they receive.

The question none of the experts or pundits are prepared to answer is just what does Olivia Chow bring to this banquet? Name recognition is not enough. In 27 years in Toronto politics, Chow has no identifiable accomplishment to her name. She is not a leader. She is not even a very daring follower. She is certainly no political strategist. And if you think she is a consensus builder, you should find out what she has built.

Some people work hard. Some people work smart. Olivia Chow can do neither. A nine-month campaign for mayor of Toronto would grind your Chow down to a Chihuahua.

Look at the job. A Toronto mayor has to sort out a motley council and find a few allies who will work for power. The rest will sit back and wait for their opportunities to tear the incumbent mayor to shreds. At the same time, the mayor can fall back on potential allies on city staff. Put the right mix of staff and political allies together and you can make the system work. It can work for you if you are not too ambitious. There are few progressives at city hall.

At the very best, Olivia Chow could get sympathetic support from the left wing of council. These left wingers are against more than they are for. And they are concentrated downtown. It would take just one term to thoroughly alienate the suburbs. It could resurrect a Rob Ford.

Making a city of over two million people work requires leadership and political structure. The voters need to know ahead of time what people are going to do in office. Some day, a smart politician will go around the different city wards and make some deals. He is going to give a bunch of ward candidates green shirts and say to the voters: “Vote for the guys in the green shirts and vote for me and you will get good government, lower taxes and a chicken in every pot.” Not everyone will believe this candidate but it sounds a hell of lot better than what city voters have today.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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