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Kimberley Daily Bulletin editor Carolyn Grant on the year of municipal politics

Carolyn Grant

It’s going to be a very interesting time in politics next fall, folks. Especially at the municipal level.

Communities in provinces across the country will be electing new mayors and councils. Of course, we will be particularly interested in what will happen locally. Who will run again? Who won’t? Will the change to four-year terms deter some? Will a councillor from either Kimberley or Cranbrook step up and run against the incumbent mayor? Will either of the incumbent mayors run?

We won’t know for a few months because it’s unlikely anyone will declare this early. I’ve always appreciated the neat and tidy six-week election campaign in Canada. Yes, there is plenty of jockeying for position before the writ drops, especially in jurisdictions such as British Columbia where the election date is set for every four years. But the true campaign, when the voting public is really engaged, is usually the last six weeks.

Even in the U.S. where the run for president now begins two years before the election, the public doesn’t really tune in until just prior to the vote.

However, there is one election that will be making noise early and often. It will engage the public, even if it’s only in the sense that, much like watching a car wreck, you can’t look away. It’s going to be a dirty, backstabbing, political free-for-all and I, for one, can’t wait to watch it.

It’s the race for Mayor of Toronto. We all know that Rob Ford will seek re-election. And Thursday, Olivia Chow resigned her seat in Parliament and declared her intention to take on Ford for the right to hold the gavel in Canada’s largest city.

This is going to be a dog fight. Right versus left. Suburbs versus inner city. And two high profile candidates.

It’s hard to get more high profile than Rob Ford. He’s a household name around the world. Even if you live under a rock in Outer Mongolia, you’d have heard of Rob Ford.

Then there’s Olivia Chow. Widow of the late Jack Layton, the man who single-handedly took the NDP into the role of official opposition, Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina (downtown TO), a seasoned politician in her own right. In Toronto, most voters would know her name.

There are other candidates running for mayor, but I predict they will fall by the wayside one and all, buried under the juggernaut of what will be a two-person race — Ford versus Chow.

Chow has experience, political connections at every level of government, a good track record.

Ford has… whatever it is, he has it in spades.

There is seriously a very good chance that Rob Ford will win this election. The man has survived a series of events which should have killed any chance he had. But they didn’t. He has somehow, through sheer bravado, managed to convince many voters in Toronto that a crack-smoking, lying, often vulgar man, with questionable friends, an iffy record on matters of conflict of interest and the ability to act like a complete buffoon, is still a viable candidate for mayor.

He has managed to turn himself into a victim. And you can bet he’ll play the victim card again and again. He’ll make the press the enemy and say they just won’t leave him alone, even as he courts constant attention from that same body. Why are you bringing up the past?, he’ll ask. I’ve changed. And some voters will buy it. They have already allowed Ford a pass on actions that would have killed a lesser politician’s chances.

It’s going to take something special to stop him. The question is — is Olivia Chow going to be able to bring it?

It’s going to be fascinating to watch.

Especially from the comfort of our seats on the warm side of the Rockies, where we know — no matter what — the races for Mayor in Kimberley and Cranbrook will be less interesting. And that’s a good thing.

Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin