In an acceptance speech Monday night — peppered repeatedly with vows to deliver a “safer, caring and more affordable” Toronto  — Olivia Chow’s narrative reminded me of the same hopey-changey hyperbole made by Toronto’s last NDP mayor David Miller.

Miller, a disaster as mayor, managed to increase spending by 43% and the net debt by 176% during his one term. The union friendly mayor landed the city in a costly garbage strike and left the mayor’s office with a $700-million unfunded commitment for buses and streetcars.

It did not escape my attention that the hyperbole Chow used was the same used to woo voters nearly 20 years ago when Miller came to office. But the low-information largely downtown progressives didn’t seem to remember, or care that everything old is new again.

And now a Toronto already in severe decline faces three years under the leadership of someone I call “David Miller on Steroids.”

The union support Miller got pales in comparison to Chow. Every single Ontario teachers union and virtually every single labour union worked overtime to put her in office and will expect their quid pro quo now that she’s there.

Not only did the fiscally challenged Chow refuse to say throughout the 90-day campaign how she’d resolve Toronto’s $1B-plus deficit left by her predecessor but she trotted outrageously low figures (no doubt put together on the back of a napkin) as to how much it would cost to build her promised 25,000 units of affordable housing.

She assiduously avoided the city’s rising crime rate and the subject of policing likely because she is known to be a great supporter of defunding the police. Her plan to expand community crisis teams of social workers who respond to people with mental health issues will do absolutely nothing to resolve out of control lawlessness on the city’s streets and TTC system, largely perpetuated by desperate drug addicts.

Speaking of drug addiction and homelessness, based on Chow’s history of enabling the poverty industry (the Ontario Coalition against Poverty was on speed dial during her councillor days), it should come as no surprise that more encampments and (un) safe drug injection sites are likely.

It is certainly not a leap of faith to suggest that this radical progressive will seal the destruction already well underway during her predecessor’s term — turning Toronto into the next San Francisco, Eastside Vancouver, Portland, and any other U.S. or Canadian city already ruined by progressive mayors.

Now in fairness to Chow, who I’ve known since her post-amalgamation days as councillor in the Mel Lastman government, she took advantage of a confluence of factors that worked in her favour as the preferred choice for mayor.

She presented herself as an outsider and alternative to a City Hall dominated in recent years by the Old Boys, lobbyists and the political establishment.

That in fact was highly manipulative considering she brings to the job her own set of union hangers-on and the loud voices of poverty pimps, queer  and cycling activists.

She convinced everyone she is “caring” and toned down for the campaign, spoke to the masses like a protective grandmother. 

And no doubt she evoked misty-eyed images of her late husband, the former NDP leader Jack Layton. 

The low-information voters lapped it up, claiming they were tired of 12 years of conservative rule, when in fact Chow’s predecessor had done everything he could think of to appease the progressives inside and outside City Hall.

Facts be damned.

Of course, there’s the absolute apathy of a large majority of Toronto residents, only 38% of whom managed to get out and vote.

But the real person to blame for this election fiasco is former Mayor John Tory who ran for a third term despite having a trunkful of baggage and after promising not to do so. It seems for all of his talk about loving Toronto, he actually loved the idea of being mayor more.

He subsequently walked away from the job a mere two months into it — amid revelations of his steamy three-year affair with a former staffer — leaving the city in an absolute fiscal mess and its streets in squalor.

He also left the city with a $13-million by-election bill.

Had he not run for a third term, as he promised, the election last October might have been vastly different experience with far fewer candidates competing for attention on the political spectrum and a far less ideological candidate selected to undo the damage of the Tory years.

As it is, Tory’s legacy is Olivia Chow and the silent majority will have to sit through three years of political pain watching the city decline even further.

The question remains: Will it ever come back?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sue-Ann Levy was on Anthony Furey’s campaign for Toronto Mayor. Furey is currently on leave as True North’s VP for editorial and content. 


  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.