Activist Desmond Cole could step into city politics void left by Doug Ford
Toronto's municipal politics landscape looks a lot different than it did a week ago.
Instead of working on a campaign strategy to win the Mayor's office from John Tory, this week Doug Ford finds himself getting used to his new surroundings at the helm of the Progressive-Conservative party.
Ford has less than 3 months to convince voters across Ontario that he should be the one to replace Kathleen Wynne as the province's Premier.
His departure from city politics has left somewhat of a vacuum in these early, pre-municipal election campaign days.
Ford was Tory's natural challenger, after unsuccessfully seeing through his late brother's bid for the Mayoralty in 2014.
The name of black activist and NEWSTALK 1010 weekend host Desmond Cole scored well last Fall, in opinion polling commissioned through DART Insight & Communications.
In fact, when respondents were asked who they'd consider voting for, Cole earned only 6 per cent less support (30%) than Ford (36%).
Tory finished at the top, with 74% support.
Cole said at the time that he would need time to consider taking on Tory in the next election.
On Wednesday, he told a NEWSTALK 1010 reporter that nothing has changed from his standpoint.
Cole denies rumours that he's plotting a challenge for Tory's job, but its one he isn't ready to rule out.
The promise from Cole is that he'll have more to say on May 1st, when city hall starts accepting nomination paperwork for the municipal election campaign.
"The only reason I haven't made that announcement is because I don't take that kind of a move lightly," Cole says.
While the columnist and activist insists he's still pondering his political ambitions, he's decisive when it comes to the state of politics on Toronto's political left.
It sounds like Cole doesn't like what he sees.
Cole vents his frustration at high-profile progressive politicians and public figures who seem reluctant to stake their positions and income on what could be an uphill battle against an incumbent Mayor who still performs well in opinion polls.
"I think there's a lot of cowardice on the political left," Cole says, "outside of looking after their own political fortunes, I just think they're not up for taking on some of these really challenging issues."
"Its a huge missed opportunity for politicians on the so-called left who who just really don't seem up to it."
Cole says that by standing on the sidelines, Toronto's progressive difference-makers are letting issues like racism in policing, ballooning police budgets, and lagging transit expansion take a back-seat.
He argues that little to nothing has gotten better since Tory became Mayor for people battling racism, poverty, and homelessness.
Cole says he believes he's capable of giving Toronto's the kick in the backside it needs, because he's got a track record of advocacy and nothing to lose.
However, he's not ready to commit just yet.
"(Entering the campaign) would mean spending the rest of 2018 in gruelling campaign and then, if I won, taking on the newest big challenge in my life," Cole says.
DART pollster John Wright is of the belief that the numbers add up for Cole, and that now would be an ideal time to maximize his results with a campaign for Mayor.
Wright argues that Ford's exit should improve Cole's chances in this Fall's election.
"(Cole) could give a voice to people who have very different views on things like policing, community housing, and social issues," Wright says.
"Even if Cole doesn't win the election, he will force change because he cannot be ignored."
Toronto's next municipal election goes this October.