Olivia Chow’s latest campaign promise? Shorter campaigns

Olivia Chow’s latest campaign promise? Shorter campaigns

(Image: Olivia Chow/Facebook) (Image: Olivia Chow/Facebook)
 

Another sure sign that this year’s mayoral election is an unusual one: the campaign itself has just become a campaign issue.

Olivia Chow said in a press release today that, if elected mayor, she’ll lobby the province to shorten Toronto’s campaign period from almost 10 months to closer to four. “It makes sense that a municipal election be somewhat longer than provincial ones, but ten times as long is just too long,” she’s quoted as saying in the release. “Having shorter elections better focuses debate about our city and better reflects the reality of mayoral races today.” Her characterization of the length of this year’s race may even be an understatement: Rob Ford has been more-or-less openly campaigning for reelection since shortly after he took office. In any case, it’s true that Toronto’s mayoral elections are punishingly long, at least by Canadian standards. Currently, they begin in January and end in October. Chow would move the start date to July.

Not everyone agrees that shortening our mayoral campaigns would be for the best, though. Speaking to the Star, David Soknacki’s press secretary, Supriya Dwivedi, argued that the long slog benefits lesser-known candidates who need more time to overcome “frontrunner, establishment candidates.” That slow-build strategy is the one Soknacki is using, and his success or failure on election day will be a good indicator of whether it can actually work. It’s worth pointing out, though, that Toronto’s better-known mayoral candidates have generally come by their fame honestly, as a byproduct of years of political activity. (Even Ford had to struggle to make a name for himself as a city councillor.) Criticizing the likes of Chow and John Tory for having some preexisting name recognition is at least a little disingenuous.