Olivia Chow kicks off her run for mayor

Olivia Chow kicks off her run for mayor

Olivia Chow at this morning’s campaign launch. (Image: CityNews/Screenshot)

Olivia Chow was the last of the big-name mayoral contenders to enter the 2014 race, but, as it turns out, she was also the first to give her election bid a formal kick-off. She staged the first significant campaign event of the year earlier this morning: a speech at St. Simon the Apostle Church, near Bloor and Sherbourne.

Speaking from a lectern that had been set up in front of a no-doubt-carefully-selected crowd of ethnically diverse people, Chow spoke in generalities about her goals for the city. After pointing out that her family had lived in nearby St. James Town—a low-income neighbourhood made up mostly of apartment towers—after immigrating to Canada from Hong Kong, she called upon the city to do more for struggling families. “My life is proof that we must put children and families at the heart of this wonderful city of ours,” she said. She also briefly discussed public transit (she has said she favours light rail).

At no point did she mention Rob Ford by name, but there were a few references to his record as mayor. “He has failed to make the critical investments our city needs to stay competitive,” Chow said. “He has failed to help businesses create jobs for so many people who are desperately looking. The current mayor is failing at his job. And he is no role model for my granddaughters. We deserve better.”

“It is time for change,” she added. “Yes. We need change now. I spent years at city hall. I know that city hall can work. I balanced budgets with mayor Mel Lastman. I worked with people on all sides of the political spectrum to get things done.” After the speech, she grabbed the nearest infant and posed for pictures.

All of Chow’s serious competition in the election is right-leaning, and she’s already fending off attacks designed to portray her as a free-spending NDPer. (She was, of course, an NDP MP until yesterday, when she resigned in order to run for mayor.) Whatever happens from this point forward, though, Chow has seized some early momentum. The others will have to catch up. (John Tory’s official campaign launch, incidentally, is next week.)