As the election heats up, local candidates try to prove they are in the best position to represent Queen’s Park voters. But the races are tight – and all sorts of factors could tip the outcome. Today we take a closer look at three compelling constituencies and what the candidates are up against.
As he happily chats with customers at a small Caribbean lunch counter, Faisal Hassan doesn’t look like a guy fighting for his political life.
“Hey how are you? Family ok?” says Hassan as a customer comes to greet him as he queues for tea at Fahmee Bakery.
Another asks if Hassan can help a relative and hands him a business card.
“Let me see what I can do,” Hassan said.
But the relatively cheerful tone belies that Hassan might be facing the prospect of becoming a one-term provincial deputy.
In a riding that was previously represented by a Liberal at Queen’s Park for nearly all of its months, Hassan is already swimming uphill as the NDP candidate in York South—Weston. Add to that the fact that the Progressive Conservative nominee happens to be Mike Ford — yes, Doug’s nephew — and being the incumbent suddenly doesn’t seem like the automatic perk it can often be.
Hassan insists he’s not worried and says Ford – who represents a neighboring district on Toronto City Council – is not a serious threat.
“If the PCs were to win this constituency, it would have been in 2018,” says Hassan, referring to the previous election, when PC candidate Mark DeMontis finished just behind Hassan, winning 32.95% of the vote against 36.07 for Hassan. . Incumbent Laura Albanese finished third, with 27.83%, as voters swept Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals from power across the province. “It was a wave. And waves come and go.
Plus, Hassan snorts, Ford doesn’t even live in the constituency — and he didn’t resign his council seat to run.
“How will he represent our community? Who takes care of the people? It all depends on someone’s career.
Ford, meanwhile, is careful to point out that he donates his councilor’s salary to charity during the provincial election campaign and that his constituency office staff are always busy working.
“People can call the office, people can call some of the neighboring advisers. They can also call me, but I won’t be able to call them back as quickly as usual. The work is still in progress. People can always get help,” says Ford.
As for not living in the constituency, Ford says it’s an area he knows well – and not just because his council ward is right next door.
“It’s a community that I know very well. This is a neighborhood in which I lived and grew up here. It’s a neighborhood where I played hockey,” says Ford.
As for running in a constituency that has never elected a PC candidate since its first challenge in 1999, Ford says he’s not trying to make a point. It’s not, he says, like Justin Trudeau running for a seat in the House of Commons in the federal riding of Papineau, which was a Bloc Québécois stronghold.
“I didn’t lose sight that it generally didn’t go the way of the conservatives,” Ford says. “I chose York South—Weston because it’s a community I know well. I worked in the councilman’s office for a while. I would not put myself in a position where I would go to a riding just to go to a riding.
Ford, whose Uncle Doug was swept into the Prime Minister’s Office on a PC wave four years ago – and whose late Uncle Rob was an often controversial figure during his time as mayor of Toronto – isn’t running away from his surname. Not that voters would let him, he said.
“Let’s put Doug and the PC party aside for a second. So many people come up to me and tell me about Rob and the work he’s done in our city and our community to connect with people,” says Ford. “Rob is a big reason I got involved in politics and community service. He had a big heart for this town.
But while acknowledging he was inspired by his family’s political history, Ford insists he has his own way of doing things.
“There are always preconceived ideas, of that there is no doubt. But I have a proven track record of doing the job. That’s what I’ve been doing at City Hall for the past six years — working with council members on all sides,” Ford says, a claim backed up by even some of his staunchest opponents.
Joe Cressy, one of Toronto City Council’s most trusted left-leaning voters, quickly befriended Mike Ford after he was elected to council in 2016, in his uncle Rob’s former neighborhood.
“I think I was elected at 30, and he was elected in his early twenties. We were the two youngest councilors. He used to jokingly call me ‘Old Man Cressy’. We were the two kids on the board,” says Cressy, who recently resigned from the board and holds a position at George Brown College.
Cressy and Ford tangled frequently during council debates, but it never got bitter or personal, Cressy says.
“He’s a conservative, proudly, but he’s also a very collaborative individual. And so, Mike and I, we were debating each other very heavily on the council floor and then we were going out together for a beer. together,” Cressy explains. “He was always someone who was very clear in his politics, but a very collaborative guy and a decent, decent person.
But even though he offers a less combative style than his Uncle Doug, Mike Ford still supports PC policies that haven’t been good for York South—Weston, a constituency that has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19, support Hassan and Liberal candidate Nadia Guerrera, a seasoned teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
“It took us seven months to get a COVID-19 testing center. And the vaccines? They were going to other communities,” says Hassan from the riding in the northwest corner of the city, which at the start of the pandemic suffered some of the highest infection rates in the Greater Toronto Area.
That record during the pandemic will hurt Mike Ford’s chances on Election Day, Guerrera says, adding that many front-line workers in warehouses and manufacturers, as well as educators, live in the riding.
“There is a very strong anti-Ford sentiment in this constituency,” says Guerrera, who insists she is not long term, even if she runs against a high-profile PC candidate and incumbent. NDP. In 2018, Guerrera finished third for the Liberals in Parkdale—High Park, where Bhutila Karpoche won for the NDP.
“I don’t think I’m the underdog. The NDP incumbent has not kept his promises. It’s a two-way race. And we are the progressive option.
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