Sarah Thomson dropped out of the Toronto mayoral race on Tuesday, throwing her support behind George Smitherman in an attempt to stop current front-runner Rob Ford.
Thomson held an early morning news conference at her campaign headquarters where she made the announcement, saying:
(Ford is) going to basically destroy transit, he doesn’t care about the social issues that George Smitherman cares about, there’s so many reasons … these reasons are very important to the long-term future of Toronto.
Some will applaud Thomson’s move, considering she was trailing in the polls and was not likely to win.
However, there’s no doubt that others will see this as another blow to women in politics — losing the only woman who was considered one of the five front-runners will no doubt cause some people concern.
As a woman, I never really got behind Thomson because she was a woman — it’s not how I vote. This being Thomson’s first attempt at politics, it’s also hard for me to get behind her as a genuine candidate (who can forget the kerfuffle when she used her magazine, the Women’s Post, to announce her candidacy?)
The question really boils down to this: Can a woman really run Canada’s biggest city?
Well, they did before amalgamation, but since 1998, both of Toronto’s mayors have been men (Mel Lastman and David Miller). Has the city grown and changed enough that a woman would be unable to handle the portfolio?
Was Thomson that woman?
I don’t think so.
Sarah Thomson is a successful business woman, much like Belinda Stronach and others who have entered politics before. But I think she failed to really get the public’s trust before throwing her hat into a big, political job (much like Stronach when she ran for the leadership of the Conservative party).
In order to get a woman elected as mayor in Toronto, I think that woman has to be a councillor and prove herself to the electorate before trying to become mayor of Toronto.
And while even that does not guarantee anything (just look at former mayor Barbara Hall’s failed bid against David Miller in 2003 and former councillor Jane Pitfield’s failed bid in 2007), I think it’s something that will come with time.
It just wasn’t the right time and Sarah Thomson was not the right woman.
(Photo courtesy of Sarah Thomson’s flickr account. See more of her photos here.)