The election for the Mayor of Canada’s largest city is still months away but several people have thrown already their names into the ring. Two of the most prominent contenders are Olivia Chow and current Mayor Rob Ford.
Two newly published books give us a behind the scenes look at what makes them tick.
Olivia Chow is one of the best known candidates for the top job in Toronto. Her memoir is a touching and often difficult look back at her early days in Canada. Her teen years were marked with great academic achievements yet her home life was tainted by violence between her parents. After graduation Chow began her career working as a sculptor and when she became more socially active she ran and won a position first as a school trustee and then as a Councilor for the City of Toronto. She was the first woman of Asian descent to hold those positions. She continued to work hard for the poor and for causes that helped children and it was during this time that she met another City Councilor named Jack Layton. To say they were a formidable team was an understatement: from the back rooms of Toronto’s City Hall, to the corridors of Parliament they worked for the causes dear to their hearts. Chow was by Jack Layton’s side throughout his first bout with cancer, his campaign that saw the New Democratic Party form the Official Opposition, and finally through his final months of battling cancer. Almost three years after Layton’s death, she has now resigned from her position as Member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina in downtown Toronto and declared her candidacy for Mayor of the city she and Jack Layton loved.
It’s hard to believe that a few years ago Rob Ford, Toronto’s current Mayor, wasn’t a household name in all of Canada. In the last year most Canadians have learned more than they ever thought possible about this colourful, explosive and divisive character. As a matter of fact, anyone around the world with access to a television or the internet has probably heard his name and watched his antics unfold live. Yet through all of his exploits he has remained strangely popular with a part of Toronto’s electorate known as “Ford Nation”. Robyn Doolittle’s book takes us behind the scenes for a closer look at the Ford Family, his sidekick brother Doug Ford (a Toronto City Councilor), his previous jobs, his personal life, and most of all the stories that have kept him in the public eye in the last year. From his quasi-criminal behavior, his problems with substance abuse, his friendships with alleged criminals, and his inability to stop himself from saying inappropriate things in public, Doolittle covers it all. It’s enlightening, entertaining, and insightful.
“Drawing on newspaper articles written by National Post journalists Christie Blatchford, Jonathan Kay, Andrew Coyne, Chris Selley, Rex Murphy and others, an account of the precipitous rise and calamitous fall of one of the most controversial public figures in Canadian political history. From his early days as a crusading suburban city councillor to his reign as Mayor of Toronto and his eventual crowning as the city’s clown prince, the National Post presents a history of Rob Ford with all the warning signs, red flags, enthusiasms, controversies and scandals that have led to our current mayoral mess”
Some Great Idea: good neighbourhoods, crazy politics and the invention of Toronto (M) 2013
by Edward Keenan
“Since 2010, Toronto’s headlines have been consumed by the outrageous personal foibles and government-slashing, anti-urbanist policies of Mayor Rob Ford. But the heated debate at City Hall has obscured a bigger, decade-long narrative of Toronto’s ascendance as a mature global city. Some Great Idea traces how post-amalgamation, and under three very different mayors,”