Olivia Chow wants to trim mayoral election period in Toronto

Olivia Chow would like to shorten the length of the city's mayoral elections in future.

'It shouldn't take 299 days to choose a mayor,' Chow says

Olivia Chow says she'd like to shorten the length of the election campaign period in Toronto. (CBC)

Olivia Chow would like to shorten the length of the city's mayoral elections in future.

The mayoral hopeful says that if she is elected as Toronto’s next mayor, she’ll be taking steps to make that proposal a reality.

Her plan would be to have candidates register for mayoral runs on the first business day that follows Canada Day.

That would shake up the current arrangement in which some contenders, including incumbent Rob Ford, signed up in the first week of January for the Oct. 27 election.

"Having almost a full year of campaigning doesn’t benefit our city," Chow said, in a statement released Tuesday. "We elect federal governments in 36 days and provincial ones in 28. It shouldn’t take 299 days to choose a mayor."

At least two of her fellow mayoral contenders don’t agree with her suggestion.

Karen Stintz issued a statement Tuesday saying that "shortening municipal campaigns is not in the interest of our local democracy."

Stintz said shorter campaigns favour incumbents, as lesser-known candidates need more time to get their ideas out to the public.

She also said that candidates with ties to bigger political parties also have an advantage in shorter campaigns. Stintz put Chow into this class of contenders, whom she said "are supported by a major political party and money from special interests."

Stintz said that she will be unveiling her own plan for democratic reform in the weeks ahead.

David Soknacki, a former city councillor who is also running for mayor, tweeted that he was "saddened" to see Chow was calling for a change that would benefit those with resources that some candidates wouldn’t have:

There was a mixed reaction on the proposal from members of council who spoke to the media on Tuesday.

Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said he "would tend to agree" with Chow that the election period should be shortened — perhaps "even more" than her proposal that is linked to the July 1 holiday.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says that even if Toronto shortened the length of its mayoral election period, some candidates would still be campaigning throughout much of that year. (CBC)

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly was on the other side of the fence, citing the fact that municipal candidates are not able to raise money for campaigns in the same way that their federal counterparts are.

"In our system, you can only raise money after you’ve declared your candidacy. And so, sometimes you need far more time than the parliamentary order in order to raise that money," Kelly said.

"And you know what? Even if you shorten the time, it’s a campaign year and I suspect that people will be campaigning all the way throughout it anyway."