Running for mayor in vogue with senior politicos

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Judy for mayor.jpg
Popular NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis is now running to become Mayor of Winnipeg

What do current and former MPs Maurizio Bevilacqua, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Denis Coderre, Rick Limoges, Joe Fontana have in common with current and former MLAs George Smitherman and Kent Hehr? They are all contemplating or running to become mayor of their city. So what's up? Is it really in vogue for senior politicians to throw in the towel and suddenly want to enter the civic arena and become the mayor of their city? They've obviously not talked to former NDP MLA, now Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson about what life is like in the hot seat.

Although it may not be a major trend, I think the fact that Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Winnipeg have all attracted candidates from senior levels of government is rather intriguing. It raises the question, is life as your city's top politico that much easier than life in Ottawa or your provincial capital? Should we all be concerned that having parliamentarians run for city election could translate into our city hall chambers becoming another partisan palace for prolific pontificators? With the notable exception of Vancouver and Montreal, party politics are rare in Canadian cities.

In Winnipeg, former NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis is one of the most high profile federal politicians to jump into the civic arena. She's joined by Bevilaqua who recently announced he is trying to get elected as the mayor of Vaughan, Ontario. Meanwhile, former provincial Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman it going head-to-head with Rob Ford to become the mayor of Canada's largest city.  In Calgary, former Liberal MLA Rick Limoges is hoping he'll take over from retiring Mayor Dave Bronconnier.

In days gone by, becoming a city councillor or mayor was seen as a training ground for politicians who may eventually want to become the local MLA or MP. With all these MLAs and MPs now taking a run at the mayor's chair, perhaps that notion needs to be revised somewhat. Could it be that running for federal office has now become a training ground for the ultimate prize - becoming mayor?

After years of being treated like the poor cousin, I kind of like the fact so many senior politicians are taking an interest in urban politics and the civic scene. Their interest likely relates to the fact that over the last several decades, big cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver have become bigger operations that some of our smallest provinces.

For example, the City of Toronto is a multi-billion dollar operation that rivals many mid and large-sized federal government departments. The post also affords Hogtown's mayor with a Canada-wide profile and stature befitting that of a senior federal cabinet member. In other words, for a back bench MP, becoming the Mayor of Toronto or Montreal is a prize big enough to end your federal or provincial political career.

With several provinces holding civic elections this fall, we'll be watching the races closely to see if any of these senior politicians become top dog. What do you think? Is the trend toward more senior politicos running for mayor good or bad for local government? We'd love to hear what you think. Let us know by providing your comments below.

- Post by Daniel


The Thought of The Day

“Just call them ‘professional politicians’...meaning ‘they wouldn't be given jobs minding goats’ on the Outside. “

Reformed cons and recycled politicians. What do they have in common?

Depending on their dedication to the ‘craft’, and on the time spent on the Inside, they are more or less Institutionalized. This is all they know. On the Inside, they are belonging, they feel important, people look up to them.

Outside, they are nothing!

They are shadows of old cons, poor shmacks with early bladders, trying desperately to hide inside a general population they don't understand; they are pompous arrogant pricks with a sweet tooth for unlimited expense accounts, and Armani suites they have nowhere to ‘walk’.

I wouldn’t be surprised, twenty years from now, say, during the next hopeless office renovation, for some carpenter’s apprentice to come across the words ‘The Gregor Was Here’ carved into the wooden panelling of the third floor. Vancouver. City. Hall.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Why do you need to preface all your posts with 'thought of the day'. Do you record all your thoughts? Do you only have one thought per day with writing down?

And why do you end each post with the same tagline? Yawn.

Two thoughts on the post--interesting that the author thinks 'being easy' is what motivates these people to seek jobs in civic politics. I'm pretty sure people don't run for mayor or any political position because it's 'the easy' thing to do....

Second, comical that the author thinks having parliamentiarians in civic politics would make it somehow more partisan. That's funny.

Vancouver seems to be a stepping stone to Victoria. Mike Harcourt, Gordon Campbell both served as mayor, before becoming premier. There are probably others I can't remember without more coffee on a holiday Monday.

I agree that the Mayor's seat in a large Canadian city is probably much more interesting and satisfying for a backbench MP or MLA without a major portfolio, or even a long term politician that would like to have a more concentrated impact in their community.

The notion of the Mayor being focussed on the city and not a provincial or federal agenda is changing, along with many things in our society, although we still expect our Mayors to prioritize local issues.

As we in the arts industry have looked to our provincial and federal funders with the same squint, no matter who is running the show, we hope to work cooperatively to produce programming, so too I expect our Mayors to view the provincial and federal levels of government.

If a Mayor has an established political agenda, how well does that bode for her/his citizens if the other governments are from different parties? Social media demonstrates very well how politics become polarized, how do local projects and issues that require provincial and federal cooperation get priority in that case?

This is not China, we cant just move people out of towns to build a 64 billion dollar ditch. But we also need to be able to have politicians operate in a non-partisan manner when they come from different ends of the political spectrum, and that goes for their immediate staff as well.

"Why do you need to preface all your posts with 'thought of the day'. Do you record all your thoughts? Do you only have one thought per day with writing down?

And why do you end each post with the same tagline? Yawn."

boohoo - you constantly whine about the lack of serious discussion of the issues on this blog yet you post the most trivial criticism imaginable. Typical hypocrisy of the left - do as you say, not as you do.


Your statement 'typical hypocricy of the left' embodies perfectly the stupidity of which I speak. Thank you for so kindly and accurately proving my point.

The Thought of The Evening

"Boohoo.Bite me!"

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

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