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Olivia Chow…you almost had us…

October 27, 2014

Oh, Olivia Chow. How we loved you last year. You were the voice of reason in a city gone mad. We danced around the house when you declared your candidacy for mayor of Toronto.

Kathleen Wynn had just won the Ontario election in a landslide. You saw how she did it. Energy, vision, leadership! And you had years of local political experience, and we knew you had a vision of what Toronto could be.

You could speak to the Toronto downtown neighbourhoods, to the Asian community, and to immigrants. You had had previous campaign success and you were the wife of the late Jack Layton – the master of political glad-handing.

You got an early lead in getting financial support. You were way out front in the polls.

The Toronto mayoral race was yours for the taking…

But then you got Al Gore Syndrome.

You went all NDP amateur in your campaign. You were over-managed and said nothing. You focussed on the wrong opponent. You were wooden and stiff. You didn’t call out voters who were racist or sexist. You energized no one.

By August you were floundering. I stopped reading your vacuous email updates. The newspapers noted that you brought on a new campaign management team – but it was by then too late. It was apparent that the prize had slipped through your fingers.

The lead evaporated – and today – on what should have been your big day – you run a distant third to a putz who had lost three previous mayoral races, and to a bully who is worse than his brother.

I’m sad for Toronto, and I am sad for you. I have worked with you in the past. I know you actually care about Toronto politics, about its neighbourhoods, its broken transit system, its schools, its immigrants.

But sadly you came off as amateur. Your TV spots looked like they were developed in a Grade 8 social studies class. You only ever seemed to talk about transit and little else. All I smelled was 1980’s style NDP community campaigning – wool socks and  burkenstocks.

Politics is a cruel business. If you can’t connect to the people – the people won’t vote for you. Being a leader isn’t just about being the smartest candidate in the room – its also about having the charisma to be the chosen one. Rob Ford knew this fundamental truth.

Toronto is now the 5th largest city in North America. You have to be larger than life. The people expect that for a great city.

But your campaign lacked confidence, vision, and style. You ran for mayor like you were still running a neighbourhood campaign for city council.

Oh well, maybe next time….

The city will be worse off, and people get exactly what they vote for.


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