Chow gets in
Olivia Chow officially launched her campaign today and jumped in with both feet with an exclusive in studio interview on Moore in the Morning. You can listen to the full exchange here. I am mindful of the fact that the most active listeners of NewsTalk 1010 (those who call and text most frequently) skew conservative so it's not surprising that I received a cascade of texts from people who already hate everything Chow stands for and -in some cases- Chow herself. But as you know, I give everyone a chance so, just a few notes on our conversation this morning.
I was a bit surprised that she didn't come roaring out of the gate with a fully fleshed out platform. Not that any other candidate can lay claim to having much of a platform at the moment but leaks from the campaign suggested she was going to pants her opponents by saying "good for you for running but here's where I stand". That didn't happen although just as John Tory has, she did lay out the principal themes of her campaign -a family friendly city and a framework to make the city more business friendly. For progressives she rang some gongs when it comes to what matters in a city; walkability, transit, safety, child friendly policy, parks, trees libraries etc. I pressed her on specifics and she said they were to come. In a campaign that will run another seven agonizing months that might be disappointing but it's not outrageous.
Chow did push back forcefully about the infamous "subsidized housing narrative" saying "we paid market rent and we did nothing wrong". She is actually quite correct in this version. It's a cute line to yell "housing cheat" at Chow (and before her Jack Layton) but the story doesn't hold up. It's one of those "Al Gore said he invented the Internet" stories that works like a dog whistle for those who already don't like Chow but it's a bit of a hoary old myth.
I'm a bit surprised at how soft spoken Chow continues to be but maybe that's a strategy to stand out. Certainly in her short speech to the launch rally she had the chops of an old school campaigner.
I always say, never assume that everyone feels about your opponents the way you do. There's a voting block in this town that literally feels sick at the thought of Olivia Chow becoming mayor. But there has to be some reason why she enters as the clear front runner. She is no-one's dummy, she has cut her own path (meaning the riding on Jack's coattails talking point is largely empty) and she committed to some very specific things this morning (tax increases in line with inflation and LRT for Scarborough).
Tory and Stintz have largely gone silent since their launch and I expect Chow to do the same thing. I figure most Torontonians will largely shut out the race until Labour Day. So I won’t labour the whole thing here or on the show until things really heat up.