Less orange crush, more mayoral gold
Now that Olivia Chow isn’t ruling out a 2014 mayoral run, we ask: What can the New Democrat do to appeal to the same mainstream voters who ushered Mayor Rob Ford into power?
BE THE MAINSTREAM; DON’T BUY THE HYPE
Ms. Chow has two major hurdles to overcome. The first is managing expectations. The hype that surrounds a potential candidate long before election day is not the same, as George Smitherman learned, as earning the right to govern. The second is underestimating her opponent. Rob Ford would not be the mayor of Toronto today if he had not been dismissed early on by the self-proclaimed front-runners. The race to be Toronto’s next mayor isn’t about appealing to the mainstream. It’s about being mainstream. The difference is subtle. As Rob Ford figured out, it puts you in the mayor’s office.
Jeff Bangs, partner, Pathway Group Inc.
EXPRESS WHAT’S IN VOTERS’ HEARTS
The Olivia Chow brand should dig beneath the dissatisfaction that got Ford elected to find something more fundamental. Appeals for lower taxes may really be about alienation from decisions made at City Hall, for example. Chow has great brand awareness and a strong image — but she needs to feel voters’ pain. This means expressing things that are deep in their hearts but have not yet found a way to express. That’s how great brands do it, and that’s how the Chow brand can be a winner.
David Dunne, adjunct professor of marketing, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management
CONCRETE POLICY ON TRANSIT, HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING COSTS
Mayor Ford answered the question “Where’s the beef?” — a new mayor must answer the question “Where’s the substance?” Mayor Ford rode to office on a populist efficiency wave but didn’t deliver. Ms. Chow cannot ride a nostalgia wave of good Jack Layton memories. Transit, homelessness and housing costs are just three issues that need concrete policy, not platitudes. Mayor Ford’s notion that “People like subways” and that increased land values will pay for them only stands scrutiny until the next newscast. Ms. Chow must withstand a long campaign and be believable at the end.
Allan Bonner, adviser to former mayor Mel Lastman at the height of his popularity
TRADE YOUR BIKE FOR A PICKUP TRUCK
Olivia, get off the bike and into a pickup truck. The more gas it guzzles the better. Get season tickets for the Leafs. Sit in the cheap seats with the real fans and eat a hot dog. Move to Scarborough. I know that you’ll be tempted to buy a nice condo near Scarborough Town Centre so that you can hop on public transit, but remember, you have a pickup truck now and it should be parked in front of a two-storey monster home. Olivia, you must seem to be what they aspire to be. If you win, celebrate with beer and not champagne.
Bill Carroll, host of The Bill Carroll Show