The announcement yesterday that popular downtown city councillor Adam Vaughan is seeking the federal Liberal nomination in Trinity-Spadina is a "game changer" that puts the Grits back into major contention in the upcoming by-election.
In fact, I might even suggest if Vaughan does secure the Liberal nomination (which seems very likely), he becomes the likely frontrunner in the by-election race due to his amazing name recognition, his solid policy chops, his message promoting urban issues in Ottawa, and his street cred as a councillor who won his ward in 2010 with almost 75% of the vote. Against NDP insider and largely unknown Joe Cressy, Vaughan will have a great chance of winning over voters in the riding.
We've seen this movie before. In 2006, Olivia Chow relinquished her former seat at city council to win the federal riding. In the subsequent municipal vote, the local NDP nominated her largely unknown executive assistant, Helen Kennedy, to run for Chow's city seat. At the time, Adam Vaughan refused to play by the NDP rules and launched his own independent campaign. Despite the NDP throwing everything it could at him, he bested Kennedy easily. Now it looks like history could repeat itself with Vaughan, now in the federal Liberal camp, taking on Cressy.
Before yesterday, Vaughan didn't seem like the type to join a political party, although his progressive credentials are beyond reproach. So this news has brought a major smile to my face. It will make volunteering for the Liberals in the by-election all the more satisfying as we'll be fighting to put an outspoken advocate for cities in Ottawa who isn't afraid to speak his mind. He might end up being a bit of a maverick in the federal Liberal caucus, but that would be to the benefit of Toronto and the voters he represents, which is why he'll have massive appeal to voters in this by-election.
Vaughan's candidacy also puts the whole Christine Innes mess into perspective. I have not shed any tears over the latest developments which saw Innes banned from seeking the nomination now or anywhere in 2015 over allegations of bullying and intimidation. Her lawsuit launched this week against Justin Trudeau and David MacNaughton strikes me as a very deliberate attempt to save public face. We'll see how far that lawsuit really goes in the end.
But the Innes story is inside baseball. The general public in Trinity-Spadina passed judgment on Innes twice, with her losing by over 20,000 votes in 2011. None of this will impact on Vaughan's likely Liberal candidacy, whose skills, passion and massive credibility will draw voters and volunteers to his campaign from all over Toronto.
As a friend commented on my Facebook page yesterday, Vaughan's attacks on our pathetic excuse of a mayor in Toronto have been music to our ears the last four years. It will be wonderful to listen to him take this anti-city Harper government to task in Ottawa should he win the seat. It will also be great to have Vaughan on the Trudeau team as they forge an agenda to fix this country, help strengthen the middle class and build stronger local communities.