Will Olivia Chow challenge Rob Ford for Toronto mayor?

Speculation that popular NDP MP Olivia Chow could be just the leftist candidate to boot Toronto Mayor Rob Ford from office in the 2014 civic election is mounting.

Theories that Chow is considering a mayoral bid began nearly a week ago when she told reporters at a press conference in Toronto that she hadn’t “shut the door completely” to the idea of running for mayor.

The idea of having Chow at the helm picked up more momentum Thursday when Ford failed to show at a press conference in Ottawa alongside other big-city Canadian mayors who were demanding much-needed money from the federal government for infrastructure. Ford, it turns out, was coaching his football team, the Don Bosco Eagles.

“It is no-shows and garbled priorities like this that has added an urgency to efforts in Toronto to find a ‘unity’ candidate to unseat Ford in 2014 and more and more it appears those efforts are leading to New Democrat MP Olivia Chow,” writes Toronto Star columnist Tim Harper.

Also on Thursday, Chow, who represents the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, appeared at a second media event in the city to demand money from the federal government to fix the city’s crumbling Gardiner Expressway.

“I’ve been asked by more and more people,” Chow told Globe and Mail reporter Marcus Gee at that event. “I love the city and it’s my home and so I’m paying attention to what people are saying to me.”

Meanwhile, Ford is expected to take the stand at 10 a.m. Friday morning in a libel case against him. The mayor is being sued for $6-million in damages over comments he made in 2010 against a business owned by George Foulidis, which was re-awarded a sole-sourced contract to provide food and beverages along a Toronto beach.

The next Toronto municipal election takes place Oct. 27, 2014.