How Torontonians are reacting to Chow as their new mayor

By Tina Yazdani

Reaction is pouring in after what turned out to be a tight race for Toronto’s top job on Monday night.

Many groups are applauding the election of a progressive mayor in Olivia Chow and Torontonians CityNews spoke to on the streets say they’re keen to see what she can accomplish in both the short- and the long-term.

“I had a feeling Olivia Chow was going to take it,” said one resident. “Most of our family did vote for Olivia Chow as well.”

“It’s nice when you see that change. It’s empowering that she’s the first BIPOC woman in this position,” added another.

As for what they’d like to see, many people focused on getting around the city.

“I think she mentioned a little bit about the TTC ramping back up after COVID, so I‘m hoping we can do something about that,” said one citizen.

“I would like to see a lot of the construction cleaned up and I guess easier transportation for people,” another resident mentioned.

“I think just making TTC maybe safer … I‘ve been lucky i haven’t experienced any of those horror stories but I know a lot of people have,” said a third.

The mayor-elect said housing will be her first priority when she takes office in a couple weeks, but she’s made big transit promises too.

 ATU Local 113 represents nearly 12,000 public transit workers. President Marvin Alfred tells CityNews Chow is the right person to restore service, secure investments and bring safety and reliability back to the TTC. 

“Right from the jump she declared that she wanted to invest in transit, providing transit for people,” said Alfred. “Olivia Chow stood out above the rest, by far. She’s an authentic ally. She actually takes transit all the time. She’s invested in the well-being of transit, not just as a candidate for mayor, as a person.”

Beyond the issues, Chow’s win is being described as groundbreaking. She is the first Asian woman to be elected and brings her own experience as an immigrant to the job.

This is absolutely historic and incredibly special,” said Chi Nguyen, executive director of Equal Voice. The organization works to elect more women to all levels of political office in Canada.

Nguyen said the people of Toronto have proven they’re ready for a woman to lead.

“We had two immigrant women as the [main] contenders and between the two of them, they earned nearly 70 per cent of the vote which is extraordinary.”

CityNews also spoke to a lot of people today who hadn’t followed the election or voted at all. Toronto’s voter turnout improved from last year’s mayoral election, with more than 720,000 ballots cast, representing 38 per cent of eligible voters.

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