- National Post: “Polls aside – who believes polls any more? – the general impression is that Olivia Chow started as the favourite with about a third of the vote, and is still there. By taking time of for rehab, Ford opened the way for fellow conservative John Tory, but the former businessman, civic activist and provincial party leader has failed to gain much ground.”
- Toronto Star, reader comments: “[Rob Ford’s] completely delusional…I can’t wait for this city to be a Ford free zone…Please just go away.”
- National Post: “Ask an average Torontonian where any of the candidates stand and you might get this: Chow seems like a nice person…Tory also seems like a nice person. His whole plan was to build a new subway line, but then he changed it to something else, something to do with GO trains. I think.”
- Toronto Star, poll: “Chow had 34 per cent support, Ford 27 per cent, Tory 24 per cent.”
- National Post: “Tory, who should be breathing down Chow’s neck, suffers from vagueness. His campaign site reads like a corporate action plan: a binder complete with colour co-ordinated dividers with snappy titles and pledges to ‘find and eliminate the real waste at City Hall and invest in Torontonians’ priorities.’ OK, but how?”
- Sun Media: “Last night, Olivia Chow unveiled two new radio ads in her campaign to win the job of Mayor of Toronto. The two ads are ‘attack ads’ and they go after the incumbent, Rob Ford. As far as attack ads go, they’re pretty slick and may make you chuckle.”
- National Post: “Chow has several advantages: everyone knows who she is; she has the left-wing vote all to herself; her ideas may not be overwhelming, but they’re hard to criticize. Also, the other candidates, all being more conservative, have fractured the vote without managing to produce a clear alternative to Chow’s program.”
- Torontoist: “Olivia Chow has her faults, she has never been one to speak meaningless drivel. Simply put: Rob Ford is a liar, and Karen Stintz is a hack, and Olivia Chow is neither of these things. We are not going to engage in false equivalencies just to make Chow appear as bad as those other two for the sake of ‘balance.'”
- National Post: “[Tory] based his challenge largely on a pledge to end years of civic jabbering and finally build a new subway that would relieve the stress on the overcrowded, aging, existing system. But he couldn’t explain how he’d pay for it, then suddenly shifted to a new plan…While it might be a good idea, it complicated his own message and left voters wondering what happened to his original great idea and, once again, where the money would come from.”
From regular reader SJ:
“Reading your column this morning brought back a memory I didn’t even know I had. The first time I ever met you was at some smokey, loud party of Carleton students. There was a loud argument in the kitchen which, of course, included you. Not being a CU student, I didn’t know who you were and asked who that was. I got two replies: some very drunk guy called you a faggot, and my somewhat drunk roommate said you weren’t – but that you never shut up in class.”
Never shut up – sounds about right.
My parents thought I was gay.
In Seventies-era Calgary, this was a rather big deal. I had been writing pro-gay editorials in my school papers, I had been listening continuously to the Tom Robinson Band’s British hit (‘Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay’), I visited the Parkside Continental more than once, I wore black all the time, and most my friends at Bishop Carroll High School were gay, closeted or otherwise. We were the art-music-poetry-punk rock crowd, and a gayer bunch could not be found in Calgary, in those days.
Things got a bit queer, as it were, when my parents heard the first single by my band, the Hot Nasties. On the lead tune, ‘Invasion of the Tribbles,’ I hollered that I wanted to “make sweet passionate love” to someone named “Johnny.” That little bit of lyricism got the eyebrows popping around our archly-conservative Lake Bonavista neighbourhood, let me tell you.
So – to make a long story short – my parents thought I was gay. We grew up in a pretty gay-positive household, because my Dad was an immunologist, and one of the first physicians in Canada to deal with what would come to be known as AIDS and HIV. Their concern, if I can call it that, was that I would get outed, and therefore beaten up in Calgary, which – in those days – happened a lot.
I wasn’t gay, but rumours persisted throughout high school and university that I was. Back then, it was a big deal.
Nowadays, apparently, it is no longer such a big deal. Case in point: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
During the Ontario Liberal leadership campaign, plenty of folks – and not just red-necked mouth-breathers – wondered if Wynne’s sexual orientation would hurt her when the election rolled around. The “issue” never showed up in any public opinion polling, because no reputable pollster ever asked about it, to my knowledge. But folks in all three of Ontario’s main political parties quietly reflected on how a married gay Premier would play in, say, Bancroft.
To the credit of Wynne’s opponents – NDP leader Andrea Horwath, and soon-to-resign PC leader Tim Hudak – no mention was made of Wynne’s sexuality, implicitly or explicitly. It did not factor in the election in the way that jobs did, or some other issue. It didn’t come up.
Wynne won a majority, capturing five more seats than the 54 needed. She did so because Hudak’s vote collapsed, and because – take note, homophobes – she is a rather nice person. People liked her more than they liked the alternatives.
Wynne didn’t win because of some super-brilliant move by her strategists, or due to some extraordinary unprecedented event. She – the first openly-gay Ontario political leader – won because of HER. Her, the gay person. Voters thought about it, probably, and they ended up not caring.
The best response to her victory came from veteran journalist Kevin Newman. I loved what he wrote on Twitter: “Ontario has elected a woman who is openly gay. And it didn’t matter. I love my country. (Not a partisan endorsement. A human one).”
Whether you voted for Kathleen Wynne or not, whether you live in Ontario or not, how amazing it is that she won.
There are many more miles to go, of course. But – so far, so good.