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NDP’s Cressy getting Toronto councillors’ backing to take on Vaughan

Joe Cressy is the NDP’s candidate for the federal riding of Trinity-Spadina.


The Liberals have yet to hold a nomination meeting in the federal riding of Trinity-Spadina but NDP candidate Joe Cressy is already taking aim at city politician Adam Vaughan, the man who was convinced to run by Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Cressy, a community activist and long-time party worker for the New Democrats, will hold an event Thursday morning where he will be endorsed by five of Mr. Vaughan's fellow city councillors.

Mike Layton, Joe Mihevc, Paula Fletcher, Gord Perks and Janet Davis are all expected to join Mr. Cressy on the southeast corner of Nathan Phillips Square where he will advocate for a national transit strategy.

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None of the five municipal politicians are strangers to the NDP.

Mr. Layton's father, Jack, was leader of the federal party. Mr. Perks was an NDP candidate in the 2006 federal election. Mr. Mihevc and Ms. Fletcher have received the backing of the NDP at the municipal level.

Ms. Davis endorsed Toronto MP Peggy Nash in the federal NDP leadership race of 2012. So did Mr. Vaughan, who will fight for the right to represent the Liberals at a nomination meeting on Saturday.

Ryan Davey, the husband of riding association president Julia Metus, resigned as a candidate on Wednesday night saying the nomination had become a de fact appointment.

"While it's the leader's prerogative to recruit and select candidates," Mr. Davey said in a statement, "the clear identification of favoured candidates creates an imbalance in support that is difficult to overcome for other candidates."

Christine Tabbert said she is withdrawing from the race to co-chair Mr. Vaughan's campaign.

That leaves Scott Bowman, a producer of fitness shows who is a senior director of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, as Mr. Vaughan's only challenger. Former nominee Christine Innes was blacklisted by the party brass after a nasty fight over whether Ms. Innes would be allowed to contest in the general election of 2015.

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Voters in the Trinity-Spadina by-election, which must be called this year, can expect a fair bit of policy crossover between the Liberals and the New Democrats regardless of who wins the Liberal nomination. All candidates in the riding are aware that they are fighting for the support of a left-leaning electorate.

To that end, Mr. Cressy is out early with his transit announcement.

Picking up on a campaign that was driven by Olivia Chow before she quit as the New Democrat MP in Trinity-Spadina to run for Toronto mayor, Mr. Cressy will tell voters he wants a permanent investment plan to support public transit that includes all levels of government.

"I think it's reflective of the faith that councillors have in Joe and in the NDP," Mr. Layton said Wednesday of the municipal endorsements. "The NDP have been championing the national transit strategy for many years under Olivia Chow and that's what the city needs. And they are the only party that's really stepping up to the plate on this."

In statements provided to The Globe and Mail, other city councillors who support Mr. Cressy also lauded his transit strategy.

"Toronto needs Joe Cressy in Ottawa to fight for a national transit strategy," said Ms. Fletcher. "He's an impressive young man with a lot of successes and I trust him to add transit funding to that list."

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Editor's note: Ryan Davey stepped down as a candidate Wednesday night. Christine Tabbert also withdrew. This story has been updated to reflect those developments.

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