Olivia Chow wins election as Toronto’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor

TORONTO (AFP): Olivia Chow won election Monday to become the first Chinese-Canadian mayor of Toronto, vowing to pursue a more progressive approach in Canada’s largest city after ending more than a decade of conservative rule.

Hong Kong-born Chow, who emerged victorious from a record field of 102 candidates, has promised to raise property taxes and do more to support tenants to help tackle the city’s housing affordability crisis.

In her acceptance speech Monday evening, Chow highlighted “the mandate for change” voters in Canada’s economic capital had given her.

“If you ever doubted what’s possible together, if you ever questioned your faith in a better future and what we can do with each other, for each other, tonight is your answer,” she told supporters shortly after the announcement of her victory.

Chow won with 37.2 percent of the vote, ahead of Ana Bailao on 32.5 percent. Former city police chief Mark Saunders came in third with 8.6 percent.

An immigrant who arrived in Canada at the age of 13, Chow takes charge of Toronto at a time when the city of 2.7 million is struggling with a surge in rents, a massive budget deficit and public safety concerns.

The previous mayor of Toronto, John Tory, resigned in February after admitting to having had an extramarital affair with an employee.

During the election campaign, Ontario Premier Doug Ford had backed Saunders, saying a Chow victory would be an “unmitigated disaster.”

Monday evening, however, Ford congratulated Chow on her election as Toronto’s mayor.

“Throughout Olivia’s life, she has proven her desire and dedication to serving the city that many of us call home,” the conservative premier said.

“While we’re not always going to agree on everything, what we can agree on is our shared commitment to making Toronto a place where businesses, families, and workers can thrive,” he said in a social media post.

A former member of parliament for the New Democratic Party, Chow, 66, previously served as a city councilor in Toronto.