Chow skipped plenty of work in her final Parliamentary assignment


In the 2011 federal election, the haymaker that put Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff on the mat was thrown by NDP Leader Jack Layton in the English-language debate.

Turning to Ignatieff, Layton reminded Ignatieff that he’d failed to show up for 70 per cent of the votes in the House of Commons while he was leader. “Canadians who don’t show up for work don’t expect to get promoted,” Layton said.

At that point, it was all over for Iggy.

Now, Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow may also have to explain why she expects to be promoted from opposition MP to mayor of Canada’s biggest city when she, too, failed to show up for much of her key parliamentary assignment as vice-chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities.

Chow will quit as the MP for Trinity-Spadina Wednesday and announce her candidacy for mayor of Toronto on Thursday. She’s a strong favourite to beat the incumbent, Rob Ford, and other right-leaning challengers like John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Socknacki.

But her opponents may have questions about why she didn’t bother to show up much for her final Parliamentary assignment on the Commons’ transport committee. This was the committee that spends four hours or more a week while the House is sitting studying topics near and dear to Chow’s heart such as a National Public Transit Strategy, fighting to restore home delivery of Canada Post, and figuring out to improve rail safety in the wake of the Lac Megantic disaster.

And yet, since the fall — when rumours of Chow’s potential mayoral bid started to heat up — she’s shown up for less than half of the meetings this committee had.
Chow was not immediately available to account for those absences.

Coincidentally, another MP who left Parliament to run — successfully — for a big city mayor’s job sat with Chow on this Transport Committee. And yet, former Liberal MP Denis Coderre’s attendance rate for the 72 meetings of this committee when he was a member was 89% and, in the final 10 meetings before he quit his MP’s post, he made 7 of those 10 meetings.

Chow’s overall attendance rate since 2011 is lower than Coderre’s at 82% but, in the last 16 meetings, she’s made only made 7. And of the 7 meetings this committee has held this year — Chow attended all or part of just two.

By comparison, most of the Conservative MPs who sit on the same committee as Coderre and Chow had stellar attendance records. Before he became minister of state for democratic reform and left his committee work behind, Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre missed just one of the 77 meetings of the Transport Committee held between the 2011 election and last fall’s prorogation. Other Conservative MPs on that committee — Lawrence Toet, Dan Albas, Ed Holder and Jeff Watson — also had much better attendance records than Chow’s.

As for votes in the House of Commons, her attendance at the 71 votes held in the current Parliamentary session, which began last fall, has been reasonable. She’s been present for 61 votes.

Chow was first elected to represent the downtown riding of Trinity-Spadina in 2006 after two unsuccessful attempts in 1997 and in 2004.

If she resigns, as expected Wednesday, she will have served in the House of Commons for 2,971 days.

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16 thoughts on “Chow skipped plenty of work in her final Parliamentary assignment”

  1. Um, you know her husband died, right? I think that entitled her to take a little time off…

    This is just the kind of trip we can expect from “patriotic” media outlets owned by separatists!

    1. Mr. Layton passed away in 2011, months after the election. This story says: “And yet, since the fall — when rumours of Chow’s potential mayoral bid started to heat up — she’s shown up for less than half of the meetings this committee had.”
      Summer 2011 – Fall 2013: She needs that much time off?

      1. Let’s see how much work you miss when you lose someone! Don’t be an insensitive jerk like this columnist!

        1. Here’s the record, gang:
          Jack died on August 22,2011.
          The first Transport committee meeting of the fall that year was on September 26. Olivia was not present for that meeting.
          But at its second meeting, on September 28, 2011, Olivia was back on the job as this committee began studying a National Public Transit Strategy.
          She then missed the meeting after that, on Oct. 3, 2011 but was back at the table for this committee’s meeting on Oct. 5, 2011.
          I’ve never asked Olivia how Jack’s death affected her attendance in the House but my sense is she drew strength from her Parliamentary work. She was, it should be noted, in the House of Commons on its first sitting day after Jack’s death, on Sept. 19, 2011, a day when MPs from all sides stood in the House to pay tribute to him.

    2. No one gets that much time off after a loved one dies. Stop being a NDP apologist. if you live in Toronto your city is doomed to be in another fine mess if the people vote for her. A female David Miller. yeah Good Luck.

  2. He may be a drunk and a druggie but he’s the only one who promises and delivers on holding down Toronto tax hikes and fighting the bloated unions. Chow is the exact opposite and Toronto taxes will skyrocket if she ever gets to be Toronto Socialist Mayor. So the question becomes, how much are Torontonians willing to pay in higher taxes to get rid of Rob Ford?!

      1. Indeed… People who believe Ford lowered taxes, improved the budget, or even voted for the things he claims to have – just because he says so – should probably think about that for a moment – and then go read a newspaper.

      2. I didn’t say “taxes … increased”; I said keep tax increases down to a minimum. If Chow becomes mayor you can expect tax increases to skyrocket… believe it. There are no “tax decreases” for Toronto any more… you pay attention.

        BTW, it’s rumoured that Harper intends to reduce the GST down to 0%… and shift all the federal healthcare costs down to the provinces… who will apply whatever sales taxation they will need.

  3. It’s too bad for Torontonians this trough-feeder supreme has decided she didn’t have enough power and glory as an MP, though running up one of the highest expense accounts of any MP.

    Chow is a a tax and spend socialist, it shouldn’t take her too long to completely bankrupt the city of Toronto. Maybe Toronto can “twin” with Detroit.

    1. I’ve heard she spent like crazy as an MP on her expense claims. I keep looking to find it to use it — Toronto papers will portray her as a Saint for sure!

      BTW, as Ford was elected as Mayor, why hasn’t anyone stepped in to point out that what city councillors did (removing his mayoral powers) was illegal?!

      No one seems to care that city councillors did as they pleased. And they sure have no problem with increasing our taxes to pay for everything….like we are a “bottomless pit full of money” for them to spend. We need to kick out the worst offenders like Shelly Carroll who says if Ford wins “we” intend to do the same thing over again!!!! WTF?!?! Democracy? Apparently not!

  4. I have not seen an analysis of Trudeau and his attendance, votes missed etc since he became Liberal leader. Was he even on a committee?
    Has anyone done one?

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