Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow said that the amount and graphic nature of racist and sexist messages she has received during the current mayoral race has been far worse than she has ever experienced in her almost 30-year political career.
Prior to a scheduled debate on Oct. 6 at Centennial College in Scarborough between herself and candidates John Tory and Councillor Doug Ford, Chow told reporters that “I wish my political opponent(s) would actually speak up when these kind of attacks happen.”
The verbal attack in question occurred during the Oct. 1 debate in the Corso Italia neighbourhood, where an elderly caucasian man asked Chow why she –an immigrant who had lived in subsidized housing in the ′90s — thinks that she could run the city of Toronto.
“They just sat there,” she said of the other candidates following that question having been asked. “They made no comment.”
Asked if she thought Tory was correct in implying that Ford was an anti-Semite and a homophobe, she said that she would leave those two to fight among themselves.
“Neither of them have experienced the racist remarks directed to me. I’m the one supposedly spreading creeping jihad, I’m suppose to go back to China, I’m suppose to not be a Canadian. I’ve been attacked.”
The worst of the racist and sexist attacks, she said, are being committed online through Twitter and Facebook.
Chow thumbs through her smartphone for some of the obscene messages she has been sent since she started campaigning for mayor. Photo by Darryl Coote
“It’s just really, really disgusting comments that I can’t say publicly,” she said, offering to show the media examples after having been repeatedly asked to elaborate on the content of the messages.
“It’s not for public consumption. It involves woman body parts, it involves outrages sexist remarks,” she said.
The Toronto Star reported on Oct. 2 that since she had announced on March 13 that she was to run for mayor about 1, 756 offensive posts had been removed from her Facebook page.
“My wonderful staff and my volunteers have been deleting them because they don’t want to show it to me. And from time to time I want to see what it is and when I look at them I thought, ‘My god, in this day I’m still getting that kind of really gross, disgusting comments,’” she said.