Olivia Chow, a prominent figure in progressive politics, made history by becoming the first Chinese-Canadian mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. On Monday, she secured a victory in the mayoral election, pledging to prioritize the support of renters, champion social causes, and reduce the sweeping powers associated with her office.
During her victory speech, Chow expressed her dedication to tirelessly working towards building a city that is caring, affordable, and safe, where every individual feels a sense of belonging. Preliminary results indicated that Chow obtained 37.2% of the vote, placing her ahead of Ana Bailao, a former deputy mayor and her closest rival.
Chow’s campaign drew upon her extensive political experience, including her role as a former member of parliament in Ottawa and a Toronto city councilor. Additionally, she benefited from the historic relationships established by her late husband, Jack Layton, who was a former leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and a prominent federal opposition figure.
At the age of 66, Olivia Chow assumes the role of mayor, becoming the first woman to hold this position since Barbara Hall’s tenure in 1997. It is worth noting that Chow previously ran for mayor in 2014, where she finished third in the race.
Born in Hong Kong, Chow immigrated to Canada at the age of 13 and later graduated from the University of Guelph with a degree in fine art. Taking over the position from John Tory, a conservative-leaning mayor who won his third election in October, Chow embarks on her mayoral term following Tory’s resignation in February after admitting to having an affair with a staff member.
Chow assumes leadership in Toronto, the financial capital of Canada, at a time when the city faces challenges such as escalating housing costs and an increase in violent incidents on public transit, prompting calls for enhanced police measures. To address the soaring rents, Chow has pledged to construct 25,000 rent-controlled homes over the course of eight years.
Throughout the campaign, Chow consistently maintained a significant lead over her rivals in various opinion polls. While John Tory endorsed his former deputy Ana Bailao, Ontario Premier Doug Ford supported Mark Saunders, the former Toronto Chief of Police. In response to Chow’s victory, Premier Ford congratulated her and expressed his willingness to collaborate with anyone committed to improving the city and province.
Olivia Chow’s election as mayor marks a milestone in Toronto’s history, bringing with it a set of ambitious goals and a vision for a more inclusive and prosperous city under her leadership.