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Olivia Chow to re-enter federal politics as NDP candidate

WATCH ABOVE: Long-time politician Olivia Chow is set to take on Liberal MP Adam Vaughan after losing the race for mayor in Toronto last year. Mark McAllister reports.

TORONTO – Former Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow is set to re-enter federal politics as the NDP candidate in the riding of Spadina-Fort York.

The newly created Spadina-Fort York riding is currently held by Adam Vaughan of the Liberal Party who defeated NDP candidate Joe Cressy in a byelection on June 30, 2014.

With NDP Leader Tom Mulcair at her side, Chow announced her candidacy in the downtown riding by echoing the words of her late husband and party icon, Jack Layton.

“We have a chance to replace fear and division with hope and optimism,” Chow, 58, said at a child-care facility. “Change is only one election away.”

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WATCH:Thomas Mulcair announces that Olivia Chow will re-enter federal politics

 

Showing a rare display of passion, she said she wanted back in federal politics because a national child-care program for which she has spent decades advocating was now within grasp.

“I refuse to stand on the sideline and watch the desperation of parents waiting for child care,” Chow said.

“We’re at a historic moment: We’re on the edge of forming a government that can finally deliver affordable child care to a million kids across Canada.”

WATCH: Olivia Chow says NDP government will repeal Bill C-51, raise the national minimum wage

The NDP under Mulcair has made a $15-a-day national program a key plank for the Oct. 19 election.

Mulcair, who has been on an eight-day “tour of change” in Ontario, expressed delight at his newest candidate. Chow, he said, was a “tireless champion” of Canada’s “most important city.”

“We couldn’t be happier and prouder to have Olivia Chow with us,” Mulcair said.

WATCH: Thomas Mulcair says Olivia Chow is a champion of transit, affordable housing

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Chow previously held the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina from 2006 to 2014 before stepping down to run as mayor of Toronto.

She eventually came in third in the municipal election won by John Tory.

Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, who replaced Chow in Trinity-Spadina said he is ready to face the challenge.

WATCH: Adam Vaughan ready to face the challenge of Olivia Chow and the NDP

“I’ve run up against the NDP in every campagin I’ve won. Olivia Chow and the NDP have never given me a free ride in this part of the city and I’ve prevailed because I’ve talked to residents, I’ve worked with residents and it’s not just about saying good things, it’s about getting good things done,” he said at a press conference in Toronto.

“I was on City Council with Rob Ford, I’ve watched the politics of slogans play out in this city … I don’t think that taxpayers and residents and citizens of Spadina-Fort York are ready for another campaign of ideas without any substance behind them.”

Since her mayoral defeat, Chow has been teaching at Ryerson University where she had accepted a three-year term. Ryerson University confirmed in a statement that Chow had been granted a leave of absence and her nomination will not affect any Ryerson students.

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WATCH: Adam Vaughan says more will be unveiled in Liberal Party platform

She was also unapologetic about having forced a byelection that cost taxpayers about $1 million, saying she answered a call from thousands of city residents.

“That’s what I did, and it was an important thing to do,” Chow said. “There was no doubt that Toronto definitely needed a new mayor.”

She also pledged to work for a national transit strategy and other NDP priorities.

“Canadians are ready for change,” Chow said. “After 10 long years of (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper, his plan just isn’t working. Tom Mulcair is the only leader that can defeat Stephen Harper.”

But Vaughan said that voting for Chow wouldn’t necessarily mean change for the riding.

WATCH: Adam Vaughan stresses differences between Spadina-Fort York, Trinity-Spadina ridings

“People can cast their vote to make a difference, or they can cast their vote and really make change happen,” he said.

“You can make a point or make difference happen. I’ve delivered. I’ve delivered on transit, I’ve delivered on housing, I’ve delivered on parks and community centres and libraries at this riding. My record is one of getting things done not just talking about good things.”

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Officially, Chow must still contest the nomination but an NDP official said she was the only declared candidate and would get the formal nod Aug. 13.

Voters head to the polls on Oct. 19.

With files from The Canadian Press

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