Candidates stake claims for new federal ridings

Eric Morse –

This is a federal election year, and according to a prediction by former Liberal leader Bob Rae made on Feb. 10, the vote will take place as scheduled in October notwithstanding all the talk about a spring election. However, the major opposition parties are taking no chances, and with the redistribution of Downtown ridings, they are getting into the pre-election nomination cycle. The Liberals have been first off the mark.

In the post-2-11 redistribution, the former ridings of Toronto Centre and Trinity-Spadina have now been divided into three—not without some hard feelings among neighbourhoods divided down the middle by the new boundaries. North of Bloor St. is the new riding of University-Rosedale. West and south, along the waterfront, is the new riding of Spadina-Fort York. A modified Toronto Centre covers Cabbagetown, Church-Wellesley, the Garden District, Corktown and half of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and Distillery District.

Toronto Centre Liberals have been very busy. Chrystia Freeland, who holds the seat for the Liberals, will contest the new riding of University-Rosedale, and has already moved her constituency office to 1027 Yonge St, north of Bloor in the new riding. On Feb. 8 at the Regent Park Aquatic Centre, Freeland held what was meant to be a community meeting but turned into a de facto gathering of the clan to say goodbye. However, during the question and answer period, attendees raised a few questions of local import, focussing on the rail transportation of dangerous goods across the riding and calling for stricter federal controls.

Freeland’s event was immediately followed on Feb. 10 by the opening of Bill Morneau’s community (which will become his campaign) office at 527 Parliament St. just south of Winchester (and strategically located just steps a national fast food outlet).

Owner of a successful national human resources firm, Morneau was nominated in June 2014 and has significant ties with national and local institutions within the riding. A crowd of a little over 100 supporters showed up on a messy Tuesday evening to hear MPP Glen Murray and former MP/Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae give Morneau a rousing launch. Rae may have caused the greatest sensation of the evening with his comment on probable election timing.

In a brief interview with The Bulletin, Morneau said that his sense of concerns in the riding are that “there are not enough opportunities for young people in terms of getting jobs, and of the jobs that there are, a lot of them are part-time and they’re not the kind of jobs that are going to lead people to successful careers, and as a result there’s a real sense that the people in the middle are getting squeezed.”

Two other local Liberals with deep Toronto Centre roots were featured at the Feb. 10 launch.

Salma Zahid, who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan and was deeply involved for many years in Regent Park community activism, is seeking the Liberal nomination in Scarborough Centre (scheduled for June). Ahmed Hussen, who grew up in Regent Park and was chair of the Regent Park Community Council from 2002-05 when the redevelopment was getting under way, was nominated as Liberal candidate for York South-Weston in Dec. 2014.

Spadina-Fort York comprises much of the old riding of Trinity-Spadina. When Olivia Chow stepped down as MP to run for mayor last year, Adam Vaughan was elected for the Liberals. He will contest the new Spadina-Fort York riding in the coming election.

The New Democrats are also mobilizing. Jennifer Hollett was nominated in early February to contest University-Rosedale against the Liberals’ Freeland. On March 1, the Toronto Centre NDP will hold their nomination meeting; veteran Linda McQuaig, who contested Toronto Centre against Freeland in the 2013 by-election following Bob Rae’s resignation, is touted for the nomination again. A nomination process for Spadina-Fort York is not yet under way.

The Bulletin’s request to Conservative Party national headquarters for an update had received no response at press time.
For more information on the new riding boundaries and to find out which riding you live in, visit www.elections.ca.

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