Toronto city councillor Adam Vaughan is planning to run for the Liberals at the federal level for the downtown riding of Trinity-Spadina in an upcoming byelection.
Vaughan, who currently represents Ward 20 of Trinity-Spadina at the municipal level, would be a notable name vying for the federal riding previously held by Olivia Chow — who left her seat in favour of pursuing a mayoral bid in Toronto.
If Vaughan, a former journalist and vocal opponent to Mayor Rob Ford, won the Liberal nomination he would likely be running for the seat against 29-year-old New Democrat Joe Cressy, a social activist who ran Chow’s 2011 campaign.
He told CBC's Here and Now Thursday afternoon that his interest in federal politics was based on issues very important to him, including "defeating the current government and making sure Justin Trudeau is the next prime minister."
A long-time advocate for creating more affordable housing in Toronto, Vaughan says that issue is a national one and that there needs to be a "city agenda" at the federal level.
"City Hall is the place we deliver housing but without a federal partner — quite frankly a provincial partner — there is no way to turn five, six, 10, 15 housing units into...5,6,7,000 housing units," he said.
"You need a national government, you need a national housing strategy and I can stand on the floor of council and point my finger at Ottawa for the rest of my life. If I’m not prepared to actually roll up my sleeves and go to Ottawa and make it happen it’s just not going to happen."
Vaughan said that over the past four years the city has not had "a mayor willing to be part of that national conversation." He now believes he can effect the most change by working with Trudeau and the Liberals on behalf of cities.
In the face of two Toronto byelections the Liberals have declared an "electoral state of urgency" which would allow Liberal leadership to alter the typical nomination process.
"The effect of this declaration is to give us the authority to alter the time lines and procedures in the National Rules as we see fit," the declaration reads.
While the document does not state the Liberals intend to altogether bypass the voting process in favour of naming Vaughan the candidate, it indicates that they could possibly make the vote take place at an earlier date.
Vaughan first won the municipal Trinity-Spadina Ward 20 riding in 2006 after Chow, who previously was the councillor there, made the move to the federal government.
In October 2010 he easily held onto his council seat, winning nearly 75 per cent of the vote.
Liberal vs. NDP battleground
In federal terms, the riding of Trinity-Spadina has long been a battleground between the NDP and Liberals. In 2006, after two failed attempts, Chow beat Liberal incumbent Tony Ianno, who had represented the riding since 1993.
Chow retained her seat, beating Liberal candidate Christine Innes — Ianno’s wife — in 2008 and again in 2011 by a margin of more than 20,000 votes.
Following the news of Chow’s departure from federal politics, Innes had wanted to run again in Trinity-Spadina but was blocked by federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s team.
Innes has since filed a $1.5-million defamation lawsuit against Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada official David MacNaughton, the party's provincial co-chair.
In her statement of claim, Innes has said she was slandered by the two Liberals by claiming she had been blocked because of alleged intimidation and bullying tactics used by her team.
The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.
Jeremy Broadhurst, the national director of the Liberal party, has said that the claim is “without merit and it will be defended vigorously.”