11.30.2012 08:50 AM

Mayor Chow

Whether there’s a by-election or not – and whether she actually runs or not – she’s the candidate for me.  Looks like she is for the whole city, too:


  1. Alex says:

    Warren: If Olivia Chow decides to run, do you think this could have an impact on a NDP-Liberal merger / cooperation in the future? I can see Liberals, Greens, Dippers and even some Progressive-minded Tories working side-by-side to get Olivia elected Mayor of Toronto.

    I live in Ottawa so my knowledge of Toronto politics comes from the news media and blogs. As a thought experiment, however, I was wondering if a coalition of progressives in Toronto working together to elect Olivia could act as an experiment for similar cooperative acts at the federal level. Curious to know what you think.

    • Michael says:

      Toronto’s city council is an example of cooperation in action. We talk about council’s “left” in Toronto politics all the time, and Ford and his buddies talk about the left as “the communists” and say they’re all NDP – but what it really is, is an example of constant negotiation and cooperation between left-liberals and New Democrats who all vote as a bloc.

      The problem is that council’s Middle is all Liberals and council’s Right is peppered with Liberals too (Paul Ainslie, Michelle Berardinetti, et al – all Libs), which is one reason that cooperation may not work above the municipal level. What I think is more likely is that the actual Liberal Party becomes a Red Tory revival and that progressives unite either behind the newly centre-left NDP or behind an NDP-Green coalition, if Elizabeth May turns herself into enough of a thorn in people’s side.

      • Michael says:

        Everyone keeps talking about The Grreen Party as progressive or left, but do we know that they are are progressive?

        Beyond being “pro-environmet” (which is a bit like being pro motherhood and apple pie), what are the Green Party polices on other issues? What is their stance on economic, soical issues? Is it “progressive” ?

        • Michael says:

          I think this thread is going to be a little confusing!

          The Green Party itself is not progressive at all – on policy, it’s basically the environmental wing of the old PCs.

          But I don’t think that describes their -voters-. Look at where they have had the most success – the Left Coast, home of Adbusters and the Battle of Seattle.

          • Jon Adams says:

            While not a force to be reckoned with, the Greens are a pretty stout force in Alberta.

          • Bluegreenblogger says:

            “The Green Party itself is not progressive at all – on policy, it’s basically the environmental wing of the old PCs.”

            Not true. At one point in time, I knew pretty well every active GPC member in Ontario, many in Alberta, and the Prairies, and I met most of the EDA exec’s in the Montreal and Hull areas of PQ. At one time or another, I spoke directly with every EDA exec in Canada. There were a sprinkling of people whom could comfortably break bread with Red Tories, but actual PC’s were and are thin on the ground. There is a story behind how some actual card carrying PC’s did join the GPC. Jim Harris fortuitously sat beside David Orchard on a flight from Calgary to Toronto just when McKay engineered the most blatant betrayal in recent Canadian history. The upshot of that is that a number of Orchard supporters did join the GPC, but they were a rump, of a rump,.. The majority of Greens were non-partisan before joining the GPC. Lots of brainiac policy types, a fairly large contingent of hippies (Whom I generally found to subscribe to utterly orthodox neo-classical economics, hence the Green Tax Shift), Wiccans galore, animal rights activists, and of course both ‘touchie feelie’, and hard science environmentalists. The party membership has changed a lot in 4 years. It is largely an Elizabeth May fan club now, and I doubt that you will find many bluegreens there anymore. Just go to their website and download a copy of their platform, it is easily found, it is pretty ‘progressive’, whatever that actually means, I am sure you will agree they fit the generally accepted idea of what a Progressive is.

    • Michael says:

      That said, as Sue-Ann Levy could tell you, Right in Toronto is still relatively progressive. Check out the feature in last week’s Grid, or any column by Royson James.

    • Michael says:

      “I can see Liberals, Greens, Dippers and even some Progressive-minded Tories working side-by-side to get Olivia elected Mayor of Toronto.”

      There are also Liberals who have fought Olivia Chow tooth and nail since 1977 when she first ran federally. It would be hard for them to pivot 180 degrees and work to get Chow elected mayor.

      One other thing I have not heard mentioned is the Conservative attack machine. If you think they were rough on Dion & Ignatieff, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s full force would be unleashed to defeat Chow. They would have a field day (and it fits nicely into the gravy train narrative) with Chow & Layton having lived in subsidized housing when they made a combined $120K (in 1985).

      “Jack once told me many years after that incident that it is the one thing he has never able to purge or expunge from the public’s mind, this apparent contradiction,” said former seatmate Brian Ashton.

      • pcase says:

        They did not live in Subsidized housing. It is the biggest load of shit. They lived in a co-op. A co-op has many units where people, based on income pay full market rent (which jack and Olivia did). They also have units that are rent geared to income, or in other words, subsidized.

        Choosing to live in a co-op was trendy coming out of the 70/60’s, especially for left leaning folk.

        Let’s kill off this myth once and for all….

  2. Michael says:

    Judge removes “term” from ruling:


    Didn’t realize judges could go back and later decisions once they were rendered. Learn something new every day.

    • Eddie says:

      The positive to this is if the left/center can get their act together and get out and vote he’s gone with no recourse. But I agree what is the punishment if he can just turn around and run right away. The only punishment in this case is sticking the city with the bill. doesn’t hurt the blowhard and his brother unless they lose.
      I hope Olivia runs

  3. anon says:

    Olivia Chow as Toronto mayor? Great idea, and I think it would be good for the health of Toronto. And put a considerable dent in the failing Canadian neoconservative ‘experiment’.

  4. No, the Angus Reid poll actually reveals that over 65% of the city does NOT want to vote for Olivia Chow. Her 30% of voters is hardly a confident lead at all. This is simply a Smilin’ Jack sentimental hang-over some of us still hold, not a candidate with fresh ideas and progressive thinking.

    • Jon Adams says:

      Likewise, 77% don’t want Rob Ford. If we apply your logic, every option for mayor is a dismal option.

      Either order something off the menu, sir, or please give other customers a chance to. Don’t just idle there and complain about too many choices on the menu. Thank you drive through.

  5. Michael says:

    Good to see that you walk the walk of uniting the progressive vote, Warren, in backing Olivia over the two Liberal options. We have no political parties in this town for a reason – and Liberals and NDs cooperate on Council’s left all the time. (That said, Liberals and Tories cooperate on council’s right all the time, too, which is basically the reason I’m not a Liberal.)

    I haven’t been so excited about an election campaign in my life. No being torn between two great progressive options, no leftist civil war, just one good guy, one bad guy, and one direction to point the guns. Bring on the appeal – then let’s kick him out for good!

  6. Warren says:

    John’s not running, as far as I’m aware. You heard differently?

    • Reality.Bites says:

      I’m obviously not speaking for Warren, but I will cheerfully and enthusiastically support any ONE sane, reasonably intelligent candidate against Rob Ford. If it’s Chow, fine with me. Or Tory. Or Vaughan. Or Stintz. Or Carroll, who I’ve actually never heard of. That a man like Ford was ever voted into office at any level is a disgrace. He was booted from office for what the judge termed wilfull ignorance. The same term applies to his supporters. That, or just plain unbelievably stupid.

      • MCBellecourt says:

        One way guys like Ford get elected is with dismal voter turnout. Right-wingers are bullish about voting and turn out faithfully at every election.

        I don’t know the numbers with the Trawnna vote, but I heard it was pretty thin. Look at the byelection in Calgary Central. If progressives were half as bullish about voting as the rightwingers, Crockatt would have been crushed.

        Progressives, and the people who would benefit the most from their policies, have gotten stupid and lazy. Sorry, that’s the way it is. If things continue this way, we definitely won’t have a democracy for very much longer.

        I wish the hell I didn’t have a reason to write this comment… 🙁

      • Billybud says:

        Shelly Carroll was Davis Millers budget chief. The fact that you haven’t heard of her probably means she was good at her job.

  7. Michael S says:

    The judge tightened up his ruling to remove any chance of a stay being granted, he also stripped off any wiggle room for appeal. Tactical win for Ford, strategically it removes one of his planks.

  8. Mulletaur says:

    If those numbers hold, Rob Ford wins by a large margin – as long as John Tory is not in the race. Olivia Chow being in the race will guarantee that those who voted for Ford last time come out to vote for him again – and in low turnout municipal campaigns, it’s all about the turnout.

    If you want to vote out Ford, you will need to find somebody who can unite the left without being offensive to the rest. Olivia Chow is not that candidate.

  9. Josef says:

    I wish Saint Gerard would run for Toronto Mayor instead…

  10. Bluegreenblogger says:

    Firstly, WILL there be a by-election, or an appointment?

    If a by-election:

    Turnout will govern by-election results: Rob Ford owns the best GOTV machine in Toronto. Period. His team ramped up turnout in 2010 by huge numbers. ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2010/10/26/toronto-voter-turnout-numbers.html ) His ‘base’ is champing at the bit, and will be spewing fire and brimstone. Money will not be an object, and non-existant spending limit enforcement will mean a lot of spending going on by third parties. ( I am allowed to say that aren’t I? even if it is risque, it is the truth)

    Turnout will generally be waaaay down, because a lot of people vote municipally because they are heading to the polls to support a local council, or School board candidate. While they are there, they cast a ballot for the mayoral race. So much for the largely uncaring masses. It will be down to hard-core voters. I would be amazed if turnout exceeded 30%. Possibly much less if E-Day is a cold snowy monday in February.

    In this scenario, the only way I can see Rob Ford losing, is if the ‘anything but Ford’ campaign immediately coalesces around a single candidate, and that candidate does not carry a lot of baggage to scare off some of the ‘anything but Ford’ electorate. Olivia Chow is certainly viable, but how many anything but ford voters would brave nasty weather to go vote for her? You could say the same for any progressive candidate though.
    Chow would not be my first choice in a perfect world. There are bound to be some trial balloons in the coming week or two, but I guess that unless some really attractive preogressive/conservative (read John Tory) candidate jumps in to piss on Fords parade, Chow will be THE ONE.

    If the interim Mayor is appointed, we can all go back to sleep for a year, and worry about how to keep the Oaf out of office in 2012.

    Either with, or without the by-election, do not forget that there is campaign finance investigation going on yet, and Ford still has another chance to be excluded from the race, or re-booted from office. Imagine Ford winning the by-election, only to be turfed out a second time by a second judge! Hilarous! That’s probably why the Fords were musing about Doug running for Mayor instead of Rob.

  11. Michael S says:

    Too many Michaels in this damn thread.

  12. patrick says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard much from Olivia Chow that impressed me, not that she wouldn’t be a better mayor than Ford, it just that’s it’s like voting for Yoko because you remember John. The councillor who has been very interesting is Kristyn Wam Tong (?). Just for the notion of a Toronto bank puts her in way outside the safe thoughts of most councillors. (A US state has a public bank and no debt, but the bankers who want to control the world through debt would bust blood vessels to prevent it.) And Karen Stintz, though the Sun has done a pretty good hatch job on her.
    Really, for two years, I don’t care, well, other than the lap dog Mammoletti, anyone other than Ford.
    Hell, a broomstick with a bucket for a head is preferable.

  13. Skinny Dipper says:

    I’m always wary of early polls. If I remembered correctly, Rocco Rossi was going to win the mayoral race hands-down. Rob Ford was nowhere to be seen.

    I do think that Olivia Chow is intelligent and nice. However, that does not mean that she can win a mayoral race against Rob Ford and a few other well-known candidates.

  14. Greg Vezina says:

    Democracy Eh? 2012 – The Evolution of Party Politics in Canada

    In our 1993 book Democracy Eh? A Guide to Voter Action, John Deverell and I predicted that in the upcoming 1993 federal election the vote splits between the Reform and PC Parties would result in the PC Party going from 211 seats, one of the largest majorities in history, to less seats than the Bloc Québécois who had eight seats at the time (the PCs got two seats) and who we correctly predicted would become the official opposition. We also predicted that the Liberals would win a big majority with less than 40% of the vote and for the first time in Canadian history form a majority government with few Quebec MPs. We also noted that none of the major parties would change the electoral system or give voters any of the tools of direct democracy regardless of their policies or political circumstance, if given the opportunity, because they would rather gamble everything on the chance that they will win a majority themselves.

    We concluded that three major changes were necessary to rectify the problem and improve our democracy. First, after a detailed analysis of various alternatives, we concluded proportional representation, and more specifically, the mixed-member version of it MMP, was the best solution. Second, we studied the various tools and forms of Direct Democracy and concluded the best one available was a Citizen Initiated Referenda law similar to the one passed enacted in BC by a new government in 1990 after over 80% of voters endorsed the measure in a referendum in the previous election that saw the government that announced the referendum defeated. Third, we recommended changes in the way the political parties, MPs and House of Commons operates including allowing free votes on all matters except a money bill, allowing the opposition parties to amend a government bill and have it passed without the government falling, and making major party campaign policies binding on parties and requiring them to hold referenda on any bill that requires a party or parties to reverse a position an such major policies after an election. We concluded that the only possible way any of these changes could come about was when we elected a minority government.

    In the almost two decades since there have been only a few opportunities for us to make substantive changes, which indeed do seem to come about once every ten years or so when we have a minority government or a when major political party gets eviscerated in an election. The first opportunity was after the 1997 election when vote splitting gave Jean Chretien and the Liberals another majority with less than 40% of the vote and the right-wing parties were only able to increase their seat total by 28 seats. In March of 1998 the two day ‘Roots of Change’ conference, billed as a ‘unite-the-right’ event, was held in Toronto. It had an impressive list of speakers with philosophies ranging from ‘social conservative’ to ‘libertarian’, attendees heard a wide range of opinion on the merits and pitfalls of uniting these various fragments of the so-called ‘right.’ I was one of the guest speakers and a summary my comments were included in the June 8, 1998 newsletter of the Freedom Party of Ontario, one of the participants who noted:

    Possibly the best mechanism for parties and individuals to work together on issues where they can agree is proportional representation. That was the bottom line of a most entertaining and animated presentation made by author, writer, and political activist Greg Vezina, whose book (co-authored by John Deverell) Democracy Eh? – A Guide to Voter Action, may well be the only publication to earn the endorsements of people ranging from Mike Harris to Judy Rebick

    Using a healthy dose of humour, cynicism, and sarcasm, Vezina aptly demonstrated how “our Canadian democracy makes it impossible” to affect any meaningful change. We have “Liberals for life” under the current constituency system of Canada’s first-past-the-post system, he argued, and then offered ways of defeating that electoral system.

    “Don’t beat them, join them!” Vezina suggested. “Nice guys don’t even finish, let alone finish last. Politics is for animals, not people. Some people actually think it’s to do the right thing! Politics is about obtaining POWER. Period.”

    Until we have proportional representation, Vezina recommended that individuals take over existing party executives and candidate nominations. Other tactics recommended included the formation of a new amalgamated party, and/or a focus on strategic or negative voting. But his bottom line was clear: “Endorse candidates who endorse proportional representation!” Vezina concluded.

    While efforts to unite the right wing vote were successful and ultimately resulted in the formation of a new Conservative Party of Canada headed by Stephen Harper, which managed to form minority governments in 2006 and 2008 and eventually a majority in 2011. During the period of three minority governments, the Paul Martin Liberal minority in 2004 and the Harper Conservative minorities thereafter, there were many opportunities for the parties of the centre-left to work together, but they chose not to or fumbled efforts badly and failed to cease the moment, even when the Harper Conservative government was found in contempt.

    It is important to note that proportional representation was a policy of the NDP both federally and provincially in Ontario and although they had at least a half dozen opportunities over the last couple of decades under the leadership of Bob Rae and Jack Layton to force minority or majority governments to deal with it, they have not done so, and that the Reform party (one of the two parties that combined to ultimately form the Canadian Alliance and then Harper Conservative parties) and Ontario PC parties have had party policies that include electoral reform and/or citizen initiated referenda, but none of them took the opportunities they had to move those policies forward.

    With leadership election campaigns being held in the federal and two provincial Liberal parties and their attempting to renew themselves the opportunity to advance the discussion of these issues and perhaps make a breakthrough has come again. In the recent 2012 Quebec provincial election Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois won a minority government with a platform that included a promise to pass a citizen initiative law, which if introduced is likely to be defeated because of opposition concerns of abuse, primarily by separatists.

    In the race for leader of the Federal Liberal party, one of the candidates, BC MP Joyce Murray has suggested joint nominations and cooperation amongst the Liberals, NDP and Green party, a policy that propelled candidate and MP Nathan Cullen to a surprising third place in the recent March 2012 NDP Leadership campaign.

    Although John Deverell and I did not support recall as one of the tools of Direct Democracy in our book, a bold proposal to do pass such a law has been in the present Ontario campaign made by former Liberal MP, MPP, and Ontario and Federal Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy.

    During the 1991 BC provincial election, a province wide referendum was on two new Direct Democracy laws allowing citizen recall and initiative that were binding only on the government that called it, in a blatant attempt to manipulate voters into re-electing them. The Social Credit government, lead by Premier Rita Johnston was defeated and reduced from a strong majority of 47 seats to 7 and third party status, and the incoming NDP government lead by Premier-elect Mike Harcourt announced that his government would be bound by the results and the Recall and Initiative Act became law on February 24, 1995. Subsequently it was used in 1998, when a successful recall petition was initiated and certified, and MLA Paul Reitsma resigned his seat before he could become the first person ever recalled anywhere in Canada under such legislation.

    There is the strong likelihood that if recall was adopted anywhere else in Canada, the opposition parties would simply use such a process obstruct the operations of the legislatures, to frustrate the governments and to play politics in ongoing attempts to try to recall enough members to force unnecessary elections, as has happened where such laws exist in the US, which is a serious drawback that on the face of it appears to be a tool many members of the public might like to have, but politicians and partisans alike universally fear being used against them.

    MPP Charles Sousa, another Ontario Liberal leadership candidate has proposed measures including free votes on all bills except money bills and major party policies. Sousa’s suggestions also include minor obligations to listen to party members and let them have greater say in policy, but he does not go as far as saying that he, as premier and leader, and the party will be bound by party policy, something that surprisingly was promised by former Liberal party of Canada Leader Michael Ignatieff in the 2011 federal election and not reported. It appears that so far no one in any of these present leadership races is prepared to go this far, nor are they willing to champion measures to really open the party tent for fear of alienating their partisan core members or other candidates. The one bright shining star is the rule the Federal Liberal party has created is that a new class of supporter can participate and vote in the upcoming April 14, 2013 leadership election without being a party member, so long as they are not current members of another federal political party. This openness has the potential to be a real game changer and to excite and motivate very large numbers of people, especially the clear majority of those who people otherwise would not bother to be involved in the political process at all and those who do not vote.

    I suggest that these candidates and parties consider going much further and adopting some unique party policy and election platform positions that will be acceptable to party members, candidates, sitting M.P.P.s and voters, especially those who do not vote. I believe there is a goldmine of votes available for a new leader of the Ontario Liberal party by simply reviving the ideas of electoral reform and political accountability that were the foundation of Dalton McGuinty’s successes. Remember, most people do not believe or trust their elected officials. Only about one in ten actually trust them and this is especially true where keeping promises or accountability are concerned.

    Canadians, Quebecers, Ontarians and now Albertans and voters in other provinces are beginning to believe in very large numbers that our democracy needs improvement and unfortunately it seems that in the last two decades on the occasions when they have voted to give majority governments to Leaders and parties who have promised to make such improvements or changes when elected, these promises were not kept. Unlike Bob Rae whose NDP Party policy included proportional representation and Mike Harris who ran on promises of keeping his promises, balancing budgets and giving voters the tool of Citizen Initiated Referenda who formed majority governments and abandoned such commitments, Dalton McGuinty kept his promise, established a citizens assembly to study the issue of electoral reform and held a referendum on P.R. (even though he made changes including the requirement for increasing the percentage of votes required for it to pass from 50% to 60%), and he instituted other changes and substantial measures to enhance public accountability both provincially and municipally.

    I believe the low hanging fruit for all these current contestants to pick is Democracy. People want to believe that the membership of our legislatures reflects the makeup of the population and the will of the people. The excuse that minority governments are unstable or unwieldy, cannot function or are subject to manipulation by minority or so called fringe parties as the reason for not making changes was dubious at best in the past, but now that two of the major parties in both Great Brittan and the German Parliament have survived forming coalition governments together for several years there is no good reason to assume that they cannot work here.

    For may years in Ontario’s distant past, such as the period in the 70s and 80s where the Bill Davis PCs and David Peterson Liberals formed minority governments. The Davis back to back minorities lasted more than 2000 days, over almost six years, the first that lasted almost two years between 1975 and 1977 and the second that lasted almost four years from 1977 to 1981, when Davis won another majority, his second of four successful elections. The Peterson minority lasted slightly more than two years from May of 1985 to September of 1987.

    As a result of the many examples of the inability of minority parties both federally and provincially to work together on any meaningfull changes in our electoral laws and parliamentary procedures, the historical consequence has been one party getting a majority with less than 40% of the vote. Again the only exception was when the Ontario P.C. Party won a small minority government with four more seats than Liberal leader David Peterson who actually came first in the popular vote finishing ahead by about one percent and he signed an accord with NDP leader Bob Rae and the Liberal Party was free to govern for two years as if it had a majority.

    There is a good chance that partisans and politicians alike can be convinced to support a new regime and political culture that makes voters more accountable for public policy as well. If voters believe that their views are reflected in Queens Park and their Members are accountable to them in a more direct way than just during elections, they will be more willing to accept the decisions made by those governing them. If ordinary people believe they can have a real stake and a say in resolving matters of public concern or policy and that they will not be taken for granted, marginalized or ignored, they will flock in droves to any leader that proposes realistic ways for them to help it happen.

    That is the secret sauce that Pierre Trudeau used in 1968 to both win the party leadership and the election. First he promised to open up the party and then as a new leader with fresh ideas, he ran on ‘Participatory Democracy’ and he never said the words publically again and never looked back.

    Indeed, in the July 1974 Federal election campaign Trudeau mocked PC Leader Robert Stanfield unceasingly (Zap! You’re frozen! Zap! You’re frozen too!) for suggesting the need to impose wage and price controls, one year later in October 1975, after winning a majority government, Trudeau imposed wage and price controls (“6 and 5”).

    Trudeau had come full circle, abandoned any notion of democratic renewal, and sowed the first real seeds of disbelief in Canadian politics that now has bloomed into a practice undertaken by virtually all parties and leaders and resulted in the almost universal public mistrust of politicians and concentration of power in the party leaders’ offices, the hands of non-elected partisans, and the beginning of the elimination of parliamentarian’s and the public’s ability to it constrain or prevent it.

    What delegates and voters for the upcoming Liberal Leadership contests should do is elect, as the next leader of the party, someone that voters with interests outside of the narrow partisan concerns of party insiders believe can win enough votes to be part of a minority or form a majority government in the federal or provincial elections, who will actually implement some needed changes or who can convince enough members of the opposition or third parties where possible before that happens, to implement meaningful reforms that will change they ways we are governed and the way our interests are represented by those we elect. That is real leadership and something that people will get excited about and stand behind.

    I am convinced that the only suggestion that truly counts as something that is indeed is a game changer and big tent Democratic renewal that brings about major changes in the way we elect representatives and that opens such things up for participation by people outside of the partisan or party process that is presently designed to be manipulated to self-preservation of power of career politicians, parties, leaders and special interests.

    Greg Vezina

    December 2, 2012

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