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The collateral damage of changing demographics

August 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Kathleen Wynne’s June 12th election win represents many things. Political affiliation aside, we celebrate the first woman to be elected premier of Ontario. We also celebrate the first openly gay woman to be elected premier in Canada. These are critical milestones at a time when we recognize the need for leaders—corporate, governmental, or otherwise—to reflect the diversity of those that they lead and represent.

These things are indeed worthy of celebration. It’s especially gratifying given that Wynne had to fight an election she didn’t want and rightfully believe the province didn’t need.

It was an election determined by New Democrat Party leader Andrea Horwath, who, despite losing, seems to exhibit no recognition of how her actions have alienated much of her base. Indeed, her party may have returned the same number of seats to the legislature, but it comes at great cost. She’s no longer a partner in a minority government, and, as we have seen here in Trinity-Spadina, the party has also lost some of its most experienced and accomplished members of provincial parliament.

In a stunning defeat, much loved incumbent Rosario Marchese, who has served this riding for just under 25 years, lost his seat to the Liberal newcomer Han Dong. With Dong taking 46% of the votes to Marchese’s 31%, it was hardly a horserace, and, with great respect to Dong, doesn’t reflect the work Marchese has done for Trinity-Spadina over the years. Some of that work includes tabling a bill to curb the Ontario Municipal Board’s power over development in Toronto, working to reform the Condominiums Act, and defending the waterfront. A great debater in the legislature who has lived on Shaw Street for most of his life, Marchese has a gracious mien that is well-known on our streets. Thus, some of the votes that went to Dong reflect the area’s disenchantment with the leadership of the NDP, and can’t be viewed as an indictment of Marchese’s long and dedicated service.

The result, however, reflects something else: the changing demographics of Trinity-Spadina. We observed this in the last election, where Marchese beat the Liberal candidate by approximately 1,100 votes, with his share of the vote representing 42% to Sarah Thomson’s 40%. We are no longer a riding predominantly made up of the NDP’s traditional base. Increasingly mixed in with our students, artists, immigrants, and low-income families are condominium dwellers, urban up-and-comers, traditional business people, and the young denizens of the Entertainment District.

This has to be encouraging for Adam Vaughan, who’s the Liberal candidate seeking to represent Trinity-Spadina in Ottawa. And it’s no wonder that NDP candidate Joe Cressy, Olivia Chow’s golden boy, is running such a disciplined campaign. He has an uphill battle.

In fact, both gentlemen, the clear front-runners in the race, have a lot in common. They are both running to bring an urban agenda to Ottawa, and they both have deep roots in our community. Either would do well.

Our concern, however, is that, no matter who wins, they don’t forget to represent the needs of all of our community, not just those we have had the pleasure of recently welcoming into our neighbourhoods. We want to make sure that in our zeal for progress, we don’t leave anyone behind. That’s the real issue in this by-election: how do we address the changing demographics of Trinity-Spadina while still honouring its rich, diverse, and humble origins? That’s the question you should be asking each candidate. And the one whose answer satisfies you the most?

That’s the candidate deserving of your vote.

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