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Toronto Olivia Chow says election loss allows her to revel in 'freedom'

Olivia Chow waves after conceding defeat at her election night headquarters in Toronto Oct. 27, 2014.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

After nearly 30 years of elected office, Olivia Chow is revelling in the "freedom" of an empty agenda and wants to take time to decide what to do next.

Ms. Chow finished third in Toronto's mayoral election on Monday, a disappointing conclusion to a race she entered as the front-runner. One day later, she said she had no regrets and is ready to focus on herself for a while.

"I can think about what I want to do and not about what needs to be done for the general good," she said in an interview Tuesday morning. "I look forward to not having every minute of my life programmed."

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She did not rule out a role in the administration of Mayor-elect John Tory, a prospect he mentioned earlier in the day, but she said it was premature to consider how she might want to participate.

The post of mayor of Toronto – a jurisdiction that has more residents than all but four provinces – would have been the biggest prize of a political career that saw Ms. Chow move from school board trustee to Toronto city council and then federal politics. Her late husband Jack Layton, another former city councillor, became leader of the federal New Democrats and led them to a historic showing in the last election, cementing Ms. Chow's place at the centre of progressive politics.

She resigned as an MP to run for mayor, with polling showing that it was her race to lose. But her campaign lost steam heading into the summer and she was passed by Mr. Tory in July. He never relinquished his lead and won Monday with 40.27 per cent of the vote. Doug Ford got 33.72 per cent and Ms. Chow scored 23.14 per cent.

But Ms. Chow said she has no regrets about her decision to leave Ottawa. And she would not second-guess how her campaign was done, saying the analysis can be done by the pundits.

She appeared genuinely sanguine about the election result.

"Things that I don't have, I don't regret," she said. "I live very much in the moment. So there were people crying around me last night and I said, 'Oh, c'mon, move on. We have a new mayor, don't worry about it. There are many things that we can, if you continue to believe in what you believe in and continue to make a difference, there are other ways to contribute.' "

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