As expected, Mayor Rob Ford had a major impact on provincial election results in the City of Toronto, just not the kind he’d hoped.
Dalton McGuinty successfully repelled a conservative renaissance that Mr. Ford ushered in last year and bounced several star PC candidates, including a prominent police officer, a former mayoral candidate and a former head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Widespread disapproval of the right-wing mayor emerged as a major reason the Progressive Conservatives were shut out of the City of Toronto for a third consecutive election.
Mr. McGuinty’s Liberals took advantage of PC missteps to take 19 of 23 ridings in the 416 area code. The NDP won the remaining four.
At press time, the Liberals appeared they would lose just one seat in the area. NDP candidate Jonah Schein was leading Liberal Cristina Martins in Davenport.
A number of well-known Liberals were thought to be vulnerable, but all cruised to easy victories.
In Eglinton-Lawrence, Mike Colle was elected by a wide margin over star PC candidate Rocco Rossi, the former president of the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Colle said he heard about people's displeasure with Toronto’s mayor “at every door.”
“It basically reminded people what could happen when you get a slash-and-burn approach to government,” said Mr. Colle, whose son, Josh, is a city councillor.
Mr. Rossi, a former mayoral candidate, tried early in the race to ally himself with the mayor and his brother, inviting both to a campaign barbecue. Mr. Colle credits that, and a tape of the Prime Minister hoping for a Conservative “hat trick” in Toronto, with cementing his support.
In Scarborough-Guildwood, rookie Liberal cabinet minister Margarett Best clung to victory for the second time in as many elections. This time around, her Conservative opponent was Gary Ellis, a retired Toronto cop who was a contender for the chief’s job when it went to the force’s current leader, Bill Blair. Mr. Ellis has strong ties to the area, spending 25 years with the police force there, part of it as superintendent of 42 Division.
Ms. Best, who took over the riding from Mary Anne Chambers, won in 2007 by close to 5,000 votes. A much tighter race was expected this time, but her margin was more than 20 per cent with 50 per cent of polls reporting.
Other star PC candidates to fall were former Canadian Taxpayers Federation head Kevin Gaudet in Pickering-Scarborough East, Zipcar executive Michael Lende in Don Valley East, real-estate magnate Simon Nyilassy in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and BNN anchor Andrea Mandel-Campbell in Don Valley West.
The Liberals were looking to break the New Democratic hold on Beaches-East York with a push by star candidate Helen Burstyn, a former adviser to Mr. McGuinty. She was up against Michael Prue, a former mayor of East York who was first elected to the legislature in 2001. The Liberals were upset in this riding in the federal vote, with a first-time NDP candidate defeating former cabinet minister Maria Minna. Ms. Burstyn’s candidacy was designed to reverse that tide, but Mr. Prue’s victory was declared early in the night.
Other than a pickup in Davenport, the NDP largely failed to build on the momentum of the Orange Crush and the groundswell of goodwill that followed the death of federal leader Jack Layton in Toronto.
With early ballot numbers coming in, it appeared long-time NDP MPP Rosario Marchese could lose to Liberal Sarah Thomson in the Layton family stronghold of Trinity-Spadina. But he was eventually declared the winner.