Olivia Chow will resign her seat in the House of Commons on Wednesday and launch her Toronto mayoral campaign on Thursday, according to two sources in her camp.
Chow, who represents Trinity-Spadina for the NDP, will become the first left-leaning challenger to incumbent Rob Ford. Her long-expected candidacy likely completes the field of major candidates.
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Chow’s campaign will emphasize her personal story, which she told in a bestselling autobiography that kept has her in the public eye during her extended pre-campaign. Her launch will be held in a church in St. James Town, the dense and low-income neighbourhood of highrises where her family lived upon emigrating from Hong Kong in 1970.
Chow has led in most polls over the last year. The latest, a late-February survey from Forum Research, put her in a tie with Ford and a slight lead over John Tory, the leading challenger on the right.
Chow is known across the country as the wife of late NDP leader Jack Layton. She served for 14 years has first made her name as an effective progressive organizer on Toronto’s city council, on which she served until 2005.
She has gently criticized the behaviour of the scandal-plagued Ford, saying her grandchildren deserve a better role model. In an effort to pre-empt likely criticism from Ford and Tory, who are running as fiscal conservatives, she has said that her humble roots made her believe in the importance of “saving every penny.”
Chow’s pre-campaign efforts have been organized by veteran campaign manager John Laschinger, who has worked for Brian Mulroney and David Miller, and NDP strategist Joe Cressy.