01/06/2014 11:22 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 08:17 EST

Olivia Chow Denies Harper Offered Her Lieutenant-Governor Job


NDP MP Olivia Chow has denied she was offered a cushy job from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that would have kept her out of the upcoming Toronto mayoral race.

TVO journalist Steve Paikin wrote Monday he was told the prime minister presented Chow the chance to become Ontario's next lieutenant-governor. The tenure of David Onley, the province's current viceregal representative, comes to an end this month.

But Chow took to Twitter Monday morning to pour cold water on what may have been a massive twist in the upcoming municipal campaign.

Harper spokesperson Jason MacDonald also told The Globe and Mail that no offer was made.

"I can tell you that there is absolutely no substance whatsoever to the rumour," he told the newspaper.

Chow's absence from the race could have been a boon for embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who is running for re-election on his fiscal record but has admitted to smoking crack cocaine and abusing alcohol.

Paikin wrote that by accepting the appointment — which Chow says was never on the table to begin with — the Toronto MP would "dramatically simplify Ford's efforts to win re-election."

The former city councillor and widow of former NDP leader Jack Layton has not yet confirmed that she will take on Ford but is widely seen as a top candidate. Chow confirmed last March that she was mulling a run.

A Forum Research poll from late November had Chow beating Ford, rumoured candidate John Tory, and now-declared candidates, Coun. Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki, in a number of hypothetical scenarios.

And despite not declaring that her name is on the ballot, Chow has already received the endorsement of former Ontario MPP and 2010 mayoral candidate George Smitherman.

When Ford's crack cocaine scandal exploded last fall, Chow urged the mayor to come clean and seek professional help.

"I also believe that as our Mayor — head of our city administration and Toronto's representative to the province, the country, and the world — he must take responsibility for his actions," she wrote on Facebook. "A good place to start would be for him to now face up to the truth, and to tell it. Our city deserves better."

Toronto voters head to the polls on Oct. 27, but the question remains: Will Chow's name be on the ballot? Tell us in the comments.

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