I have never previously volunteered for a city election. Last November when the crack scandal seemed to hit its peak in Toronto (who knew there would continue to be more) my wife said to me “stop complaining and do something about it”. So I made the decision to volunteer. I was pretty sure Olivia Chow was the right person for Toronto but set out to confirm it.
I read her book “Olivia Chow : My Journey” and went to her book launch with speakers and entertainment from across Toronto. I liked who was in the room. They were people who cared about their city and people who understood social justice. Social justice is found in all cultures and is the driver for change to make the world a better place.
At the interfaith, Faith in the City conference at city hall last February there was a story I’d like to share : a man is standing by a river and he sees a drowning person coming down the river, he jumps in and saves the person. A few minutes later another person comes down the river and then another. Finally he realized he needed to go up the river to find out what was pushing people into the river. That is social justice.
No one in this campaign better understands social justice than Olivia Chow, an immigrant whose family struggled to survive in their new country and who has dedicated her life to public service to make a difference in the quality of life for all. To me, cities are built on the neighborhoods and communities that are glued together by culture. Olivia understands the importance of neighborhoods in city planning, human services and local economy. And she is the only candidate with a degree from the Ontario College of Art.
So the day she announced her candidacy I went to oliviachow.ca and signed up to volunteer for her campaign.
*John Ryerson Cultural Strategist and former Director of Culture for Markham