All Canadians watched Olivia Chow’s grief as she shared a moment in front of her husband’s Jack Layton’s casket on Parliament Hill. The two have been together for 25 years, married for 23 years since 1988 working hand in hand, dedicated to the welfare of the Canadian people.
Olivia Chow, the new widow was remarkably poised and composed throughout the last week, giving Canadians a glimpse of the woman who is a true partner in life and in politics with one of Canada’s great leader.
Political leadership is just one dimension of Olivia Chow. She is a passionate gardener, artist, reader, outdoor enthusiast, a swimmer and cyclist. After learning English as a teenager, she studied fine arts at the Ontario College of Art and Philosophy and Religion at the University of Toronto while working as a volunteer counselor in crisis intervention at the emergency ward of Toronto General Hospital – an indication of the kind of multi-tasking that has made her such an effective leader. Olivia earned an Honours BA in fine art from the University of Guelph in 1979, and supported her career as a sculptor by working for a number of social service agencies. For five years, she also taught at George Brown College’s Assaulted Women and Children Counseling and Advocacy Program.
Canadian immigrants can warm up to Jack Layton’s family values. He and Olivia Chow live with Olivia’s mother Ho Sze Chow in Toronto’s Trinity-Spadina Chinatown. How many son-in-law is willing to share his wife with a mother-in-law?