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Olivia Chow is Toronto’s next mayor

Running on a campaign to “build a caring city where everyone belongs,” Chow seemed often to float above the fray in a crowded field of candidates who desperately tried to present her as someone who would unnecessarily hike property taxes.

The second time turned out to be the charm for Chow, who ran for mayor and lost to John Tory in 2014.

It was Tory’s surprise resignation in February after admitting to an affair with a staffer that gave Chow a second shot at a win.

He released a statement Monday congratulating Chow and saying he would help her succeed as mayor in any way he can.

Running in a race which attracted 101 other candidates, Chow’s name recognition gave her an edge.

An immigrant who came to Toronto from Hong Kong with her parents at the age of 13, Chow talked about their struggles to adapt to a new country under difficult circumstances. She started sewing buttons onto jeans as a teen to help her family, with her mother cleaning homes and her father unable to hold a steady job due to mental illness.

Chow is also the widow of the late NDP leader Jack Layton, who himself came to federal politics from Toronto City Council and led their party to unprecedented opposition status in 2011 in the so-called “orange crush” before his sudden death from cancer the same year.

Chow’s stepson Mike Layton served as a city councillor before stepping away from the role last year and was involved in her get-out-the vote efforts on Monday.

Late in the race, polls showed former city councillor Ana Bailão gaining ground, buoyed by a last-minute endorsement by Tory. But despite the endorsement — and the backing of almost half of council — she wasn’t able to catch up.

Chow also managed to win despite a fierce offensive by former police chief Mark Saunders, who ran on a law-and-order platform and styled his campaign as a mission to stop Chow from getting elected at all costs. Saunders had Premier Doug Ford backing him, with Ford publicly stating that a Chow win would be a “disaster.”

Saunders finished third, with 8.6 per cent of the vote.

Alex Popa    6/27/2023


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