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.
Also on HuffPost