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:: ElectionWatch 2006

ElectionWatch: Layton hopes to chip away at Liberals in T.O.  

[PoliticsWatch posted 10:00 a.m. November 17, 2005]

NDP Leader Jack Layton is the only opposition politician with a seat in Toronto. 

As the 2006 federal election draws closer, PoliticsWatch will examine the races in all 308 ridings across the country. In the third instalment, PoliticsWatch looks at the 10 ridings in Central Toronto.    

Central Toronto

Seats: 10

2004 Seat Results: Lib 9 (-1); NDP 1 (+1); Con 0

Since the 1993 election, the Liberals have dominated elections in downtown Toronto. With the exception of NDP Leader Jack Layton's win in Toronto-Danforth in 2004 and Independent MP John Nunziata's re-election in 1997, the Liberals have won every seat in this area over the last four elections. Five of the 10 seats are solidly Liberal and the Conservatives have only had recent success in four of the ridings. The NDP is the real difference maker here. Layton and the NDP could come away with four of the 10 ridings on election night if things go right. One of those ridings, Beaches - East York has historically voted for NDP, but the seat has remained in Liberal hands since 1993. 


Solid Seats: 5

Dream Seat Scenario: Lib 10 (+1); NDP 0 (-1); Con 0

The Liberals defeat Layton in Toronto Danforth and hold off Olivia Chow in Trinity Spadina and Marilyn Churley in Beaches-East York. 

Nightmare Seat Scenario: Lib 5 (-4); NDP 4 (+3); Con 1 (+1)

Liberal MPs Sarmite Bulte, Maria Minna and Tony Ianno lose to NDP challengers. Peter Kent defeats Carolyn Bennett in the bellwether riding of St. Paul's. 


Solid Seats: 0

Dream Seat Scenario: Lib 6 (-3); NDP 4 (+3); Con 0

The NDP sends four candidates to Ottawa, including Layton, his wife Olivia Chow, Ontario MPP Marilyn Churley and a candidate from Parkdale High Park.

Nightmare Seat Scenario: Lib 10 (+1); NDP 0 (-1); Con 0

Pretty much the way things were before the last election, with Layton defeated by Deborah Coyne. 


Solid Seats: 0

Dream Seat Scenario: Lib 8 (-2); NDP 1; Con 1 (+1)

The Conservatives haven't elected a candidate in the heart of Toronto since 1988 and not one of the ridings has a strong history of sending Conservatives to Ottawa. Peter Kent upsetting Carolyn Bennett in St. Paul's would be a major win. 

Nightmare Seat Scenario: Lib 9; NDP 1; Con 0

Pretty much a repeat of the last four elections. 

The Big Picture: The last time the Conservatives formed government Brian Mulroney won three downtown Toronto ridings - St. Paul's, Don Valley West and Toronto Rosedale. In the last election, Conservative candidates in those ridings averaged a very weak 21 per cent of the vote. The most important of these ridings is St. Paul's, which has been a bellwether riding over the last nine federal elections. If Liberal voters in St. Paul's start moving to the Conservatives then that is a good indication of a national trend. Meanwhile, Conservative wins in the other two ridings won in 1988 would be major upsets as those ridings have become solid Liberal fortresses.

Ridings to Watch (5)

Conservative candidate Peter Kent is the party's best hope in Toronto. 

St. Paul's

Even though it's one of the wealthiest ridings in the country, the people of St. Paul's have elected an MP from the party that won the federal election over the past nine elections dating back to 1974. This makes St. Paul's a bellwether riding. During the Trudeau years, Liberal MP John Roberts was sent to Ottawa. During the Mulroney years, St. Paul's elected cabinet minister Barbara McDougall. And Public Health Minister Carolyn Bennett has won the last three elections. 

But if St. Paul's is a bellwether riding, then that is not good news for the Conservatives, who were handily defeated by Bennett in the 2004 election. Bennett won 58 per cent of the votes in a riding that had always been a close race between the Tories and the Liberals up until 1993. Bennett's 58 per cent was nearly three times what the second place Conservative candidate won. Enter Peter Kent. The former network television news anchor is one of the few "star" Conservative candidates the party has running for them across the country. He will take on Bennett in the upcoming election but is facing an uphill battle in a riding that saw the Liberals increase their margin of victory in 2004 even though the two conservative parties had merged and the Liberals were in the midst of Adscam. The NDP also has a star candidate running in this riding, economist Paul Summerville

Analysis: Bellwether riding that has been solidly Liberal since 1993. 

Trinity Spadina

For the third time, Olivia Chow, a local politician and the wife of NDP Leader Jack Layton, will try to dethrone Liberal cabinet minister Tony Ianno. Ianno held on to beat Chow by just 805 votes on election night in 2004. Since 1935, the Liberals have won this riding in 13 of 17 federal elections. However their dominance is dwindling, as all but one of the elections since 1984 has been either a nail biter for the Liberals or an NDP win. 

Analysis: Traditional Liberal riding the NDP could win.

Beaches - East York

The NDP is putting forward Ontario NDP MPP Marilyn Churley in this riding, which Liberal MP Maria Minna won by 7,000 votes in 2004. This riding was an NDP stronghold with NDP MPs Andrew Brewin and Neil Young holding it - with a brief interruption when Joe Clark was prime minister - from 1962 to 1993. Since then Minna has won four elections, but her smallest margin of victory was in 2004. The Conservatives are not a factor in this riding. The last time they won in the riding was in 1979 and the Tory candidate in the last election received just 14 per cent of the vote. 

Analysis: A traditionally NDP riding held by the Liberals. 

Parkdale -- High Park

Liberal MP Sam Bulte's riding has voted in a Liberal candidate in 13 of the last 14 federal elections dating back to 1962. The Conservatives won the riding in 1984 by less than 2,000 votes as part of Brian Mulroney's record majority. However, since then the Conservatives have slowly lost votes in the riding and were replaced by the NDP as the second-place party in the riding in 1997. The NDP came within 3,000 votes of defeating Bulte in the last election. While the Conservative candidate won just 15 per cent of the votes. The NDP still has not nominated a candidate for the riding as of November 15. 

Analysis: Traditionally Liberal seat the NDP could steal


This is NDP Leader Jack Layton's riding. Layton defeated Liberal MP Dennis Mills by about 2,400 votes in 2004. However, the strong Liberal showing could be attributed more to Mills' personal popularity than the riding being a Liberal Mecca. The NDP won the riding in seven consecutive elections between 1965 and 1984, including two election wins by former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, now rumoured to be in the Liberal fold. Deborah Coyne, who was a constitutional advisor to former Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells when he helped scuttle the Meech Lake Accord, is the favourite to win the Liberal nomination to challenge Layton in the only non-Liberal riding in downtown Toronto. 

Analysis: Traditional NDP seat the NDP will likely hold on to.

Solid Ridings (5)


This is about as strong a Liberal riding as there is. Davenport has voted Liberal in 14 straight elections, dating back to 1962. Former Liberal MP Charles Caccia won the riding in elections from 1968 to 2000 and had an impressive grip on the riding. In the 2000 election, Caccia had 17,000 votes compared to 3,400 for the second place NDP candidate. But in 2004, the NDP closed the gap slightly, finishing 5,000 votes behind new Liberal MP Mario Silva, but Silva still received over 50 per cent of the vote in the riding.

Analysis: Liberal stronghold

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe is a good bet for a sixth election victory in Eglinton -- Lawrence. 

Eglinton - Lawrence

With the exception of a byelection win by the PCs in 1978, this riding has gone Liberal in all 13 federal elections dating back to 1963. The riding was held by former Liberal cabinet minister Mitchell Sharp from 1963 to 78. Sharp won five elections in the riding. Immigration Minister Joe Volpe will look to top Sharp with his sixth consecutive election victory in the next campaign. Volpe won 60 per cent of the vote in the last election with a 17,000-vote margin of victory over the second-place Conservative candidate. 

Analysis: Liberal stronghold dating back to the Pearson era.

York South Weston

This riding was once held by former NDP Leader David Lewis in the 60s and early 70s until he was defeated by Liberal candidate Ursula Appolloni in 1974. Rat packer John Nunziata won the riding for the Liberals in the 80s, in 1993 and even held it as an independent in 1997 after he was kicked out of the Liberal caucus. In 2000 Liberal MP Alan Tonks narrowly defeated Nunziata by 1,500 votes. In 2004 Tonks won the riding with 60 per cent of the vote.

Analysis: Solid Liberal riding

Illusionist Doug Henning ran in this riding for the Natural Law Party in 1993. 

Toronto Centre

The Conservatives received just 15 per cent of the vote in the last election, making it difficult to believe that the PCs won this riding in 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1988. The Conservatives are no longer the Liberals' main challenger in the riding as that role has belonged to the NDP since 1997. You can say Conservative support in the riding in the past may have been an illusion. Defence Minister Bill Graham won 57 per cent of the votes in this riding in 2004, with 18,000 more votes than the NDP candidate and 22,000 more votes than the Conservative candidate. For the Tories, that's nearly as far behind Graham as the late illusionist Doug Henning was in the 1993 election. Henning ran for the Natural Law Party and came up 25,000 votes short. Graham has held the riding since 1993. He was also the losing Liberal candidate in the 1984 and 88 elections. (The Liberal candidate in 1980 was Liberal turned Conservative Senator Anne Cools). But Graham's run of four election victories is still not as great as that of former finance minister Donald MacDonald, who won six elections for the Liberals between 1962 and 1974. The Conservatives are pinning their hopes on 45-year-old investment banker Lewis Reford this time out.

Analysis: Swing riding that has become solidly Liberal.

Don Valley West

Why are the Conservatives having problems in Ontario? Places like Don Valley West hold the secret. The riding was a Conservative stronghold with Progressive Conservative MP John Bosley winning four elections from 1979 to 1988. However, Cities Minister John Godfrey defeated Bosley in the 1993 election and hasn't looked back since, increasing his margin of victory in each election. In the 2004 election, Godfrey defeated Conservative candidate David Turnbull by 16,000 votes, with a whopping 60 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives are running John Carmichael, a local car dealer, in the riding this time around.

Analysis: Former Conservative seat, now a Liberal stronghold.

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