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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is hyper-partisan Olivia Chow set to stoke up the engine of Toronto’s gravy train?

The former New Democrat MP Olivia Chow’s campaign is all about spin and appears to be designed to draw out a web of fictional virtues it hopes will cloak—or at least muddy—the real Olivia Chow’s track record.

Her guys seem to be going to great lengths to depict her as a fiscal conservative with middle-class, progressive social values. I suspect, however, the truth is almost 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

I had expected to see some digging behind the public persona by the “Hard News and Straight Talk” boys over at Sun News Network, and to be fair their website does reprint an earlier piece by Sue-Ann Levy of the Toronto Sun, Reinventing history, Olivia Chow-style.

Earlier, though, Sun News had treated us to as absurd a bit of television programming as we are likely to see outside of CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes: Warren Kinsella, who is running the “war room” for Olivia Chow’s mayoralty campaign, interviewing Ms. Chow on air. Can you imagine a more outlandish TV moment than watching a political candidate being interviewed by one of her own spin doctors, and this on a TV channel which touts itself as being all about “Hard News and Straight Talk?” Bizarre!

Then there is Ms. Chow’s, “I learned how to work hard and make every penny count, to save money for rainy days and invest wisely … .”  and her, “I balanced budgets with Mayor Mel Lastman.” bits with which she attempts to give herself some fiscal responsibility cred.

Yes, Ms. Chow was on Mel Lastman’s budget committee when she was a member of Toronto Council, but the balanced budgets she so cheerfully takes credit for would have been balanced with or without her—provincial law requires Toronto to balance its budgets regardless of the personal preference of councillors.

As a close observer at the time, I saw her always as a supporter of a big-spender agenda—a propensity for which seemed to follow her to Ottawa.

While serving as an MP in Ottawa, Ms. Chow and her late husband were labeled by the Toronto Star in 2010 as “The million-dollar power couple” because together they “charged Canadian taxpayers about $1.16-million in MP expenses last year [apparently 2009-2010] for running their offices, living in Ottawa and paying for associated travel costs.” Her expenses alone amounted to $530,304.73 for the year and was over and above the $157,731 salary she was paid as an MP.

Mind you, Ms. Chow has shown a tendency to “milk” the system before when she reportedly lived with her husband from 1985 to 1990 in a federally funded non-profit housing three-bedroom co-op apartment, paying $800-a-month for a market-value unit in the complex, while Jack and she were making respectively $61,000 and $47,000 a year (one-third tax free), pretty good money in the ‘80s.

While the couple’s occupancy of a market-value unit did not, apparently, affect the availability of low-income units in their co-op, every unit in federally funded co-ops is, to some extent at least, subsidized by taxpayer money. And they apparently recognized this when, in early 1990, they started paying $325 more per month so that their rent was closer to that charged in the private sector. Public pressure finally forced them out in mid-1990.

Watching her introduction to mayoral politics, I get the impression Ms. Chow’s handlers and spin doctors would like us to believe she’s keen on children, families and family values. The Toronto Star reports that, at the launch of her official campaign, she said Rob Ford has been “failing at his job, and he is no role model for my [Chow’s] granddaughters. We deserve better.” By this I infer she’s telling us she’d be a better role model than Rob Ford.

Rob Ford? He’s not a positive role model by any measure, and anyone else in the mayoral race would be an improvement. It’s a clever move of hers, though, to set the bar so low, as she’s not much of a role model herself.

According to a recent CBCNews.com story, “Olivia Chow says she smoked pot ‘a little bit’ when she was younger, including in her early days as a Toronto school-board trustee in the mid to late 1980s.” This is what I mean, in part, when I say she’s is out of touch with voters in the suburbs.

Maybe politicians who break the law are acceptable in downtown Toronto—they are much more sophisticated and enlightened there—but many in the suburbs will be less impressed with a school-board trustee who smokes pot.

I also remember when in 2000, while she served as a member of Toronto’s City Council with a seat on the Police Services Board, Ms. Chow attended a violent clash between  John Clarke’s Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)—a riot really—at Queen’s Park and told the police to back off.

She was later forced to resign from the Police Services Board for overstepping her authority. According to a Toronto Star report, the then Toronto councillor chanted repeatedly, “Revolution breeds confrontation,” whatever that means. Yes, she’s as radical a socialist as they come, or so it seems to me.

What sort of example has Olivia Chow really set for law-abiding citizens? What sort  of role model has she been for impressionable children? She seems to me to be little more than a zealous leftist like so many in her political party.

Moreover, Ms. Chow is anything but fiscally responsible. If elected, this NDP hyper-partisan is more likely to stoke up the engine of David Miller’s old gravy train and run it full steam ahead.

Hang on Toronto and GTA taxpayers!

2 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. The bios I have read of Ms Chow list no children born to her. Nothing wrong with that, advocates for children don't have to have any, but it just makes them a bit more credible.
    Voters might want to know whose grandchildren she refers to.
    The article by Levy list too many instances of financial extravagance for it to be anything less than an ingrained pattern. As is noted her current MP expenses as a backbencher exceed that of some cabinet ministers. The point about the famous $1.1 M toll for her and Layton, is that they lived just 250 miles down the road. He was NDP leader, but she was a mere backbencher.

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  2. Does this mean you support John Tory?

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