The June 26 mayoral election is, according to polls, Olivia Chow’s to lose.

Like her late husband and long-time federal NDP leader Jack Layton, Chow is campaigning on left-of-centre policies like affordable housing and homelessness, while also addressing Toronto’s rising crime.

However, Chow’s fiscal policy is unclear, and where her campaign platform has included dollar figures, critics have pounced.

For example, she’s pledged to build 25,000 rent-controlled homes on city-owned land over eight years—but the lion’s share of the city’s rentals are in buildings registered before Nov. 15, 2018, meaning they’re already rent controlled, and yet average rent in the city surges to new records every month.

Through increasing the building fund by 0.33%, Chow intends to earmark an estimated $404 million for these rent-controlled units, which works out to $16,160 per unit, raising eyebrows about the plan’s feasibility.

Moreover, relative to population growth, 25,000 units over eight years is a band-aid, not a viable solution.

Chow’s campaign is also built on tenant advocacy. She has pledged to prevent ‘renovictions’—a loophole landlords often use to evict tenants—through the so-called Affordable Homes Fund.

The plan would also prohibit renovictions even if a property is sold, as well as help not-for-profit, community, and Indigenous land trusts acquire apartment buildings. Additionally, it will allocate $100 million towards 667 rental units designated for “community” ownership, “guaranteeing affordability.”

To partially fund her programs, Chow will triple the vacant homes tax to 3% and implement a levy on luxury homes.

She has also vowed never to use Toronto’s new ‘strong mayor’ powers, keep the Ontario Science Centre in its current Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe location, keep libraries open every day of the week, and create more bike lanes.

As of June 15, Chow held a steady lead in the polls with 26% among all voters, and 30% among those who’ve already chosen their candidate of choice, CTV reported.

Chow is a career politician, first elected as a school board trustee in 1985, then as a Toronto city councillor six years later. She made a name for herself when she convinced city council to declare homelessness a national disaster, voted against rave parties, and fought Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport’s expansion.

Chow served on the Toronto Police Services Board until she was forced to resign in 2000 after attending a violent riot by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty during which she reportedly interfered with police.

Chow ran as a federal NDP candidate for Trinity-Spadina three times, losing the first two general elections in 1997 and 2004 before winning the downtown Toronto seat in 2006.

Her first Toronto mayoral bid was in 2014 but, despite leading in polls for months, she finished a distant third behind Doug Ford and John Tory, whose resignation earlier this year sparked the June 26 election.

Between losing her seat as an MP in the 2015 federal election and entering the mayoral race in April, Chow had been working the private sector, advocating progressive causes.

Chow has also courted controversy along the way.

She allegedly met with multiple Toronto-area groups that have connections to the People’s Republic of China (PPC), specifically accepting a gifted porcelain vase from the Council of Newcomer Organizations, a pro-state government organization that maligned Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2019.

It also denounced the House of Commons’ condemnation of China’s genocide against the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang region.Chow was also accused of meeting with the Fu Qing Business Association, a Markham-based Chinese police station that’s allegedly run by the CCP.