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NEWS: Taking the pulse at campaign parties (Nov. 2022)

November 22nd, 2022 · No Comments

Gleaner writer visits the top three candidates on election night

By Marisa Kelly

I arrive at the Pilot Tavern at 8:00 pm on Monday, Oct. 24. The former Yonge Street club and jazz bar now resides in Yorkville. It’s now a restaurant venue offering live music, and there is a pride flag proudly in the window—this is a welcoming spot, and tonight it plays host to Robin Buxton Potts’ election party. 

Upon arrival, I make my way to the upper deck and move around the partly-filled room engaging with attendees. Many folks present are a tight-knit group of supporters. Many hold the position of both politician and friend. There are some family members and some people in between. I chat with Robin and some of her friends who work in Toronto politics. They talk about the way they consider problem solving in their jobs and how they try to turn ideas into tangible action: it always seems to involve meeting with the right people and politicians. Politics is an emotional job, someone remarks. 

Potts comes from a political family and watched both her grandfather and father play roles in Toronto politics. She tells me she’s proud of this election and sees the outcome as positive regardless of who takes the seat of Ward 11 councillor.

Nearly an hour into the night I’m speaking with Potts’ campaign manager, Angelina. We’re discussing the complexity of world politics as she refreshes her browser for the election results. Suddenly, she says Potts has not been elected. Soon the TV rolls the results out too, and the room switches from buzzing and anticipatory to accepting and calm. Folks hug Potts, and it’s clear she understands but is disappointed at the results. Before I tie up my conversation with Angelina, she acknowledges that University-Rosedale is an area straddling the line of very rich and very poor. Working together to put proper social services in particular areas of the neighbourhood is going to be key to help the community. 

Again, I contemplate the importance of housing and third party spaces. As I turn my gaze to the door, I catch the TV screen and see the mayoral results are in. John Tory has been re-elected. I leave to attend Diane Saxe’s party.

I head to the Bay Street subway entrance and catch the line two train heading west to Bathurst Station. Three stops later, I hop off and head to Victory Café, where Dianne Saxe’s election party is ongoing. Saxe, the former Ontario environmental commissioner whose platform concerns climate action and affordable housing, is up against Norm Di Pasquale, who has campaigned on increasing mental health services and affordable housing. I arrive at Victory Café and everyone is buzzing. The polls just jumped ahead in Saxe’s favour, changing the course of the election in an instant. 

I get chatting with two long-time Annex community members who tell me about their experience witnessing the 2022 municipal election play out in their neighbourhoods. One of them remarks that it was the worst they have ever seen in terms of the neighbourhood response to local politics, with frequent vandalism and the removal of an election sign supporting Saxe from her front lawn. 

Suddenly, someone starts chanting, “Give me an S! Give me an A! Give me an X! Give me an E!” The whole room joins in. What does that spell? “SAXE!” 

As the evening comes to a close, the excitement is gripping. I bid goodbye to the people I’ve met and walk to Old School, a restaurant on Dundas Street West, to catch the end of Di Pasquale’s party. People are on the sidewalk, the patio, and chatting amongst themselves. The atmosphere is filled with the familiar faces of politicians from different wards who are chatting and congratulating one another on their efforts. 

Di Pasquale came in at 8491 votes (34.87 per cent), while Saxe came in with 8614 votes (35.37 per cent). Saxe won by a slim margin with a just a 123 lead.

We can’t say for sure what Saxe and her Green Party roots will bring to the city, but we can hope for an increase in affordability and that services will go to the neighborhoods where they’re most needed.  


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