By this time next year, both of Canada’s largest cities may be run by former federal politicians — and one much sooner than the other.
It has been a rough couple of months for Canada’s mayors. Gerald Tremblay of Montreal and Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval have been forced to resign due to corruption allegations, while London’s Joe Fontana is under pressure to step aside after being charged with fraud. And in Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford has been ordered from office by an Ontario Superior Court judge, which could result in a byelection
In Montreal, Liberal MP Denis Coderre has long been known to be eyeing the city’s top job. He recently announced he would stay on as MP for his Bourassa riding until after the Liberal leadership campaign is over. He brushed aside questions about his intentions by saying he had previously stated he would either run for Liberal leader or mayor of Montreal and that he had decided not to run he isn’t running for Liberal leader.
At this stage, with the next municipal election in the city scheduled for November 2013, Coderre is the frontrunner. A poll taken in early October showed Coderre to be the choice of 26 per cent of respondents as the best candidate among a list that featured, among others, former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe. Coderre also had the best head-to-head numbers against Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron, current leaders of the city’s two main opposition parties, with 32 per cent support to 12 and 11 per cent, respectively.
A run for the mayoralty by Duceppe is merely speculation at this point, fuelled in part by a recent radio interview where he did not rule out a run and gave hints he was considering it. Duceppe finished second behind Coderre in that early October poll, with 14 per cent.
In Toronto, Olivia Chow (NDP MP for the city's Trinity-Spadina riding and former city councillor) has been touted as a strong contender to replace Ford – though the speculation was at first geared toward the 2014 election. With a byelection potentially on the horizon, Chow has not ruled out a run.
In a poll released earlier this week, Chow received the support of 41 per cent of respondents compared to 32 per cent for Ford. The incumbent mayor had higher support than Chow in Scarborough and North York, but Chow beat Ford in the downtown core and Etobicoke. If Ford is barred from running again, Chow would also be able to beat his brother Doug, with 40 per cent to 26 per cent support.
This is not simply a matter of defeating an unpopular mayor. In fact, Ford would be able to beat other potential candidates if Chow does not step forward, including councillor Adam Vaughan (by a margin of 37 to 33 per cent) and former PC leader John Tory (29 to 26 per cent, with Vaughan still taking 27 per cent of the vote). This would suggest Ford still has the support needed to win again, and about one-third of the vote to bank upon.
Many politicians make the jump from municipal to provincial or federal politics, rather than moving down the ladder in reverse. But instead of sitting on the opposition benches, these current and former federal MPs have the chance to run municipal governments that hold sway over populations larger than most provinces. A big prize is at stake and they have a shot at winning it. Will they take the plunge?
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.
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Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford watches players from Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, warm up before they compete against the Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 Those whose antics threaten to besmirch the party name normally don't get a second chance with Canada's federal Conservatives. Not so, it would seem, for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford reacts after Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, lost 28-14 to Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the Grey Cup on stage with Toronto Argonauts players while celebrating the team's Grey Cup victory in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov.27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses reporters at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, left, speaks to the media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012. Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, walks to attend a toy charity event at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012. Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012.Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, makes a few remarks as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens, before the pair signed a new "sister cities" agreement Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, makes a light hearted comment as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs during the signing of a new "sister cities" declaration Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits on the back of Chicago's First Lady as he takes in an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Ford was visiting the city on a Toronto-Chicago Business Mission.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top left, relaxes during a boat tour with members of the Toronto-Chicago Business Mission on the Chicago River waterfront Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top right, waves to photographers during a boat tour with members of the Toronto-Chicago Business Mission on the Chicago River waterfront Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Rob Ford Meets Butter Rob Ford
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Butter Rob Ford
As part of an exhibition at the CNE, Toronto-based artist Olenka Kleban has made a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/24/butter-rob-ford-sculpture_n_1828527.html" target="_hplink">butter sculpture of Toronto's mayor</a>.
Dave Chappelle And Rob Ford
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Rob Ford poses with neo-Nazi Jon Latvis. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/26/rob-ford-nazi-photo_n_1707326.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">Ford's office has explained Toronto's mayor was unaware of the man's beliefs when the image was captured</a>.
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and city councillor Michelle Berardinetti (right) smile on stage during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acts on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jumps on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)