It’s been almost a month since Olivia Chow was elected mayor of Toronto and I have to admit I like the tone and tenor of her comments and comportment far more than I thought I would. I also have to admit I did not vote for her. My ballot was cast for Ana Bailão who came second with 37 percent to Chow’s 40 percent.
With the vote counted I realized how important former mayor John Tory’s late-in-the-campaign endorsement of Bailão was. But let me add an aside. Once Tory resigned as mayor because of an affair with a staffer, he should have run in the by-election. He probably would have won. Some voters these days seem unconcerned about the morality of candidates. Donald Trump, for example, is favoured by a majority of Republicans even though he raped a woman in the change room at Bergdorf Goodman.
Chow certainly has the career training for her new role. She’s been a school board trustee, councillor, and NDP member of Parliament. As mayor, Chow has declared she will follow the decision of the previous council to change the name of Dundas Street because Scottish politician Henry Dundas purportedly supported slavery. I’d rather they didn’t proceed but there are enough fights ahead without reopening cold cases.
As for Chow’s activities to date, I like her initial steps toward more housing for refugees and asylum seekers. I also admired how she spoke out on battered wives, thereby raising awareness about one of the major issues of society today. I don’t even mind that she has pledged to raise taxes. We can’t keep running huge budget deficits.
To be sure, there is plenty to do. Toronto traffic is more constricted than New York’s. More housing must be built for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrive annually in Canada and want to live in Toronto. There’s also too much meth done in the streets thereby causing mental illness among users and angst among citizens in general.
As for Chow herself, we’ll be watching. “A week is a long time in politics,” British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously said. A month is even longer. For Chow, this first month has been positive. Let’s wish her well. The last thing Toronto needs is any more setbacks.