Olivia Chow’s train has left the station.

New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair must be desperate for subjects the media will cover. The other day on his ill-conceived Ontario campaign tour Mulcair was even speculating about Jack Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, returning to politics. Mulcair is hoping she will run against Adam Vaughan in the downtown Toronto Spadina-Fort York constituency. That might be a riding area with previous New Democrat leanings but this election is about change and Olivia Chow is no change agent.

Chow’s major problem with her successor in the now redistributed Trinity-Spadina riding, Liberal Adam Vaughan, is the generation gap. At 58, she is a few years away from collecting pensions but has taken a three-year contract as visiting professor at Ryerson Institute, mentoring students and teaching civic activism. To dump that opportunity to take on what can be a losing bid for a political return is not a cheery prospect.

The problem she faces is that she hardly represents change. Her performance through many years of school board, city council and federal politics was always that of what is called today a retail politician. Her activism was directed at lower economic voters in older neighbourhoods. She has no concept of the problems facing the many thousands of condominium dwellers that make up so much of the new riding.

Even with the high priced politicos hired to forge her bid for the Toronto mayoralty last year her campaign was flat and uninspired. She was out of her league.

The problem is that Mulcair needs her running in Toronto to show solidarity in a weakening NDP base in the city. And while Chow might be persuaded to run, the facts are there is no future for her in Ottawa as a member of the New Democrat caucus. She would be a problem in any New Democrat cabinet should the vote split in October put the NDP in office.

Mulcair desperately needs some big name candidates in Toronto to stave off being eliminated in the rush to rid the country of Stephen Harper and his wrong-way Conservatives. So far the strongest ‘name’ is that of Noah Richler, the son of the late author Mordecai Richler. The only problem is that the NDP have put him in Toronto’s St. Paul’s riding which is not likely to vote NDP without a second coming.

And as much as Mulcair needs a den mother for the accidental New Democrats who do win in October, she has already deserted them once for greener pastures. What makes anyone think she would stay longer this time?

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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