Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow appeared to put their differences aside on Monday afternoon, focusing instead on their family history as a source of common ground.
The two political adversaries met for the first time since the city’s byelection in June. Throughout the election campaign, Ford made it clear that he would not like to see Chow in office, saying it would be an “unmitigated disaster” for the city if she did win.
That rivalry appears to have been pushed to the sidelines, with the politicians focusing instead on how best to push forward their agenda.
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The premier called Chow a “friend” and said their two families “go way, way back.” He then presented her with a framed photograph of his late brother and former Toronto mayor Rob Ford standing alongside Chow at the unveiling of a statue honouring her husband, former NDP leader Jack Layton.
“When my brother Rob was first elected to City Hall, Jack was a seat mate,” Ford said. “He showed Rob the ropes.”
“Jack and Rob showed that you don’t have to agree on everything to work together.”
The premier joked that his brother would often say he would look at how Layton was voting and would “press the opposite button.”
The photograph in question was taken in 2013 when Rob Ford was the mayor of Toronto and Olivia Chow was a Member of Parliament with the New Democratic Party.
The premier said he remembers his brother not hesitating to approve a request for the monument.
He also spent some time talking positively about Chow calling her a “thoughtful leader who brings people together.”
“That’s how you get things done, by working together,” he said.
Chow appeared touched by Ford’s gift, saying it was a “beautiful present.”
She said she was grateful for the financial assistance the province is giving the city for housing, and that she hopes to continue to build a vibrant city for Ford’s children and future grandchildren.
“We’re not going to agree on everything, but we certainly found the common ground and we will work closely together so that we could create a more affordable, more transit-friendly and more caring and safer city where everyone feels they belong.”