Olivia Chow becomes Toronto’s new mayor

The politician won Monday's election facing off against an incredible 101(!) other candidates
Olivia Chow appears during the 2023 Pride Parade on June 25 in Toronto. The next day, she was elected mayor! (ID 282236633 © Beth Baisch | Dreamstime.com )

On Monday, Toronto elected a new mayor: Olivia Chow.

"Wow, what a night!" she said, as she addressed her supporters after her win.

Her victory saw her win a race against 101 other candidates. In case you're wondering, no, that is not a normal amount! Even though second place finisher (and past deputy mayor) Ana Bailao made it close, Chow is the one who is going to run Canada's seventh-largest government.

So who is she?

Lots of experience

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Chow celebrates with supporters last night in Toronto. (Getty Embed)

Chow has been a politician for a long time and has a ton of experience.

She was a Toronto city councillor from 1992 to 2005 (these are the elected representatives who represent parts of the city in government). After that, she became an MP (Member of Parliament in Ottawa) representing the New Democratic Party from 2006 to 2014.

She even ran for mayor in 2014 and came in third. After that loss (and a second loss in the 2015 federal election, running as an MP) she decided that she wanted to take a break from politics.

Then in April 2023, she announced that she was joining the race for mayor. She jumped out to an early lead in polls (public surveys) and never let go.

Why was she so popular with voters? Probably because even though she's been doing this a long time, she could bring a lot of change to the city.

Progressive style

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Chow alongside past NDP leader Jack Layton on the night of a big election. She and Layton were married from 1988 until Layton's death in 2011. (Getty Embed)

Chow is the first racialized mayor of Toronto. She was born in Hong Kong and moved to the city when she was 13. She can speak three languages: Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

She is also the city's first progressive (left-wing) mayor in thirteen years.

A progressive politician is one who focuses mostly on bringing change to how a government works. Today, this style usually means more environmental policies, more money for social programs (support for the less fortunate), and an attempt to make resources more evenly distributed across the population.

On the other hand, the past two mayors of Toronto—John Tory and Rob Ford—were conservative, or right-wing. Conservatives policies work to support and maintain things as they had been. They tend to focus on lower taxes, individual freedoms, and allowing businesses to grow and easily use resources.

A more affordable city?

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Ana Bailao came in second. She may be asked by Olivia to be part of her new government. (Getty Embed)

Many people who elected Chow are hoping that she can address the high cost of living. Like many of Canada's other big cities, such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary, things like rent, groceries, and other necessities are very expensive in Toronto.

Her win shows that people believe that it is time to try a new approach.

Chow's plan includes improving the service and cost of the city's public transit system, and getting more affordable housing built. These are less expensive homes that are put in place so that more people have a safe place to live.

She will officially get started in her new job on July 12.

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