Olivia Chow says she smoked pot "a little bit" when she was younger, including in her early days as a Toronto school-board trustee in the mid to late 1980s.

The Toronto mayoral candidate and former New Democrat MP told Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, that she smoked marijuana when she was a student.

"Well, when I was in arts school, yes, I've smoked marijuana a little bit," Chow told Solomon.

"That's never been my thing. Other than the antihistamine that I occasionally need to take because of hay fever … other than that, no [drugs]."

Asked whether she ever inhaled when she was a New Democrat MP, Chow said no.

"Not as a member of Parliament. I think in my early days when I was a school trustee. I think that's a long, long time ago," she said.

"It's really not my thing. And you know, back in the old days when I was in arts school in university, yeah a little bit, but I'd rather work out. I'd rather go swimming and hiking and cycling, and I find that I need to be in very good shape, so that's why drugs is never really my thing."

Won't talk about Ford's drug use

Chow, 56, grew up in Toronto and studied philosophy and art, according to her biography. She was elected to the Toronto Board of Education in 1985 and served for six years before being elected as a Metro Toronto councillor. She was a city councillor until she was elected as the MP for Toronto's Trinity-Spadina in 2006.

The NDP are in favour of decriminalizing pot possession.

One of the candidates Chow faces in the mayoral race is Rob Ford, the incumbent who became infamous around the world after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine.

Chow says she doesn't want to talk about Ford's drug use.

"I'd much rather look at his failed policies. For example, that we know in Toronto, one out of 10 of my neighbours are not working and they're desperately looking for a job," she said.

The Toronto municipal election is Oct. 27. There's no byelection yet called to replace Chow in the House of Commons.