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Sarah Thomson (publisher)

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Sarah Thomson Hosting a Transit town hall in 2012
Thomson at the 2010 Toronto Mayoral debate held in June

Sarah Thomson, also known as Sarah Whatmough-Thomson,[1] (born 1968) is publisher and CEO of the Women's Post and the volunteer CEO of the non-profit Transit Alliance.


Thomson was born Sarah Whatmough in Toronto. She began working at a gas station at age 16 and progressed quickly to become manager, franchise dealer, until she formed a company to benefit under-performing gas stations. She was one of the first to introduce retail stores to service stations. And her management company grossed over $30 million a year with more than 200 employees.[2]

Education and publishing career[edit]

Thomson was one of the first people to add retail stores to the gas station industry. At the age of 18 she created a process that was duplicated in gas stations across Ontario building a multimillion-dollar company by the time she was 25. While building her retail company, Thomson also returned to McMaster University, as a mature student at the age of 21 to study Philosophy and English.

In her twenties Thomson became involved in restoring old homes, and created a small bookstore in her home and went through a long and drawn out rezoning process that drew her into politics.

Thomson ran the following year for the Hamilton, Ontario City Council, but was unsuccessful in her bid.

After running a community newspaper in Hamilton, the Hamilton Examiner, she sold it and established the Women's Post in 2002. The Women's Post printed a bi-weekly newspaper that transformed into a monthly magazine. In 2012 it again transformed into an online daily publication,

Since 2013, Thomson has served as Chair and volunteer CEO of the Toronto Transit Alliance,[3] a non-profit organization which builds educational campaigns and advocates for sustainable urban transportation design. The organization hosted the Green Cities 2017 conference in Toronto.[4]

Political career[edit]

Toronto mayoral election, 2010[edit]

Thomson registered as a candidate for election as Mayor of Toronto on January 4, 2010.[5]

An April 2010 poll by the Toronto Star stated that Thomson had the support of 7% of respondents, but by June a poll showed her support had risen to 17%, putting her in third place.[6] [7]

Thomson was supported by former mayoral candidate John Tory's two sons. George Tory was appointed her campaign manager while John Tory, Jr., was a key campaign strategist.[8]

Among Thomson's ideas for the city was a call for subway expansion in Toronto. From this, she garnered the moniker "Subway Sarah" and was accused of having "Tunnel Vision"[9] She went further than any other candidate by suggesting tolls be placed on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway to cover the cost of subway expansion. Thomson also expressed the need for restructuring the Toronto Community Housing Corporation to enable non-profit organizations already providing key care to obtain the funding they require to deliver better service than city run programs.

In early June, one poll had Thomson in third place at 17%[10] ahead of candidates Rocco Rossi and Joe Pantalone, but after falling to 7%, behind Pantalone and tied with Rossi,[11] Thomson withdrew from the campaign on September 28. She subsequently supported George Smitherman in a failed effort to prevent frontrunner Rob Ford from becoming mayor.[12] Her withdrawal occurred too late to be removed from the ballot and she received 1,883 votes or 0.232% support in the final count.

Provincial politics[edit]

On March 9, 2011, Thomson announced that she was planning to run as a candidate for the Ontario Liberal Party in the riding of Trinity—Spadina in the October 2011 provincial election.[13] Thomson was officially nominated as the party's candidate at a nomination meeting on March 27 and, in the general election, placed second with 18,731 votes, 1,139 votes behind the winner, Rosario Marchese of the Ontario New Democratic Party.[14]

Between elections[edit]

Since running for office Sarah Thomson has worked full-time as Chair and Director of the Transit Alliance[15] with the goal to building underground LRTs and expanding the subway system she promoted the idea of dedicated transit funding to pay for the expansion.

On March 8, 2013 Sarah Thomson accused Toronto's mayor Rob Ford of groping her while inebriated. This included inappropriately grabbing her buttocks and suggesting that she "should have been in Florida with him because his wife wasn't there."[16] She claimed that the Mayor was completely wasted on alcohol or drugs - and accused him of behaving as if he had taken cocaine. The Globe and Mail later uncovered that indeed the Mayor's wife's passport was out of date and she had not travelled to Florida with him. In response Rob Ford denied Thomson's allegations.[17] At the time Rob Ford's chief of staff, Mark Towhey,[18] disputed Thomson's version of events, stating that Ford had only water to drink while at the event, but police documents later revealed that Towhey spoke to Rob Ford prior to the event and tried to talk him out of attending, because he believed his condition wasn't suitable for a public event.[19]

Toronto mayoral election, 2014[edit]

On March 20, 2014, Thomson arrived at Toronto City Hall in a horse-drawn cart in order to register as a candidate in the 2014 mayoral election.[20] Thomson's poll numbers are such that she has not been included in all candidates debates despite her claims that she is polling fifth.[21]

In July, Thomson arrived on horseback at "Ford Fest", an annual picnic organized by Mayor Rob Ford and his family. She faced a possible $100 fine for violating a by-law against riding a horse in a public park but the city opted against a fine.[22] In August, Thomson apologized for robocalling voters at 1 in the morning.[23]

A Nanos Research poll conducted at the end of August estimated Thomson's support at 0.7 percent of the popular vote.[24]

City council candidate, 2014[edit]

On September 3, 2014, Thomson posted a poll on her website asking voters whether she should continue her candidacy for mayor or withdraw and run for city councillor instead.[25] On September 9, two days before the deadline for candidate registration, Thomson withdrew from the mayoral election and registered as a candidate for councillor for Ward 20 Trinity—Spadina instead.[26] She garnered less than 10% of the votes, placed third and lost to Joe Cressy.[27]


  1. ^ "Personal loss opens new door for Post editor", The Publisher, March 1, 2004
  2. ^ "Lone woman runs in race for mayor's chair"
  3. ^ "Who is Sarah Thomson? Meet Mayor Rob Ford’s accuser, again". Hamilton Spectator. March 9, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2017. 
  4. ^ Fox, Chris (January 25, 2017). "Panel discussions held on how to build 'greener, healthier Toronto'". Retrieved May 12, 2017. 
  5. ^ "On your mark ... Race for change at City Hall begins", National Post, January 5, 2010
  6. ^ "Mayoral race: Rob Ford catches up to George Smitherman | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  7. ^ "Ford makes early impression", National Post, April 17, 2010
  8. ^ "A Tory family affair — on the Thomson campaign", Toronto Star, Wednesday, July 28
  9. ^ "JOHN LORINC: Subway Sarah's Tunnel Vision - Spacing Toronto". 2010-04-12. Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  10. ^ "Mayoral race: Rob Ford catches up to George Smitherman | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  11. ^ "Poll shows Smitherman closing in on Ford". National Post. Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  12. ^ "Smitherman welcomes Thomson to his corner", Toronto Star, September 28, 2010
  13. ^ Sarah Thomson to run for Ontario Liberals in Trinity-Spadina "National Post"
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Transit Alliance"
  16. ^ "Sarah Thomson wants apology after Rob Ford alleged grope at the CJPAC party", Toronto Star, Friday, March 8, 2013
  17. ^ "Rob Ford vehemently denies Thomson's allegations", Toronto Star, Friday, March 8, 2013
  18. ^ "Toronto's Rob Ford calls groping claim 'completely false'", CBC News, Friday, March 8, 2013
  19. ^ "Police Report shows Towhey worried about Rob Fords actions the night of CJPAC party
  20. ^ Visser, John; Alcoba, Natalie (March 20, 2014). "Sarah Thomson arrives at City Hall in horse-drawn carriage with boom box in bizarre entry into Toronto mayoral race". National Post. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Too many? Dozens of debates ahead in Toronto mayoral election | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  22. ^ "Sarah Thomson dodges ticket for horse at Ford Fest". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  23. ^ "Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson robocalls residents at 1:00 a.m. | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  24. ^ "Gridlock woes push Tory to top of Toronto's mayoral race". Globe and Mail. September 2, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Sarah Thomson considers ditching mayoral run for council bid". CBC News. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  26. ^ Pagliaro, Jennifer (September 9, 2014). "Sarah Thomson drops out of mayoral race". Toronto Star. 
  27. ^ Ulli S. Watkiss, City Clerk (October 27, 2014). "Declaration of Results, 2014 Municipal General Election" (PDF). City of Toronto. Retrieved 24 May 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

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