Eglinton-Lawrence race a battle of heavyweights

Marco Mendicino
UNDERDOG: Marco Mendicino won a hard-fought battle in getting the Liberal nomination.

Before the 2015 federal election was officially called in early August, Eglinton-Lawrence was one of the most high-profile races in Ontario.

A federal Liberal stronghold between its creation in 1976 and the 2011 victory by Conservative Joe Oliver, the riding made national headlines in February when former Conservative MP Eve Adams, who had represented Mississauga-Brampton South, announced her intent to run as Eglinton-Lawrence’s Liberal nominee.

Adams made headlines again in July after losing the riding’s Liberal nomination to lawyer Marco Mendicino, a longtime Eglinton-Lawrence resident who graciously thanked his opponent before resuming a campaign that, from his perspective, had started in 2014.

“I’ve been campaigning very hard and listening very closely to my neighbours for the past year,” Mendicino says. “What I’ve discovered is this riding wants a strong voice that really knows our communities and cares about the people in them… and I’m ready to be that voice.”

An executive member of the Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal riding association, Mendicino wears many hats. He is co-owner of a boutique labour, employment, and criminal law firm, volunteers with several non-profit organizations including the John Wanless Childcare Centre and COSTI Immigration Services, and acts as soccer coach for his two daughters.

When campaigning, Mendicino emphasizes his leading role in the community, explaining how Liberal promises such as repealing tax breaks for the wealthy and providing families with a monthly tax-free childcare benefit worth up to $533 per child will not only benefit neighbours, but himself.

“We send our kids to the same schools, we support the same local businesses, we suffer through the same horrible commutes to and from work,” he says. “I’m not just running for a seat in Parliament… I’m running because this place really matters to me… It’s my home.”

Joe Oliver
IN TOUGH: Current finance minister and Eglinton-Lawrence MP Joe Oliver faces two strong candidates.

Conservative incumbent MP Joe Oliver highlighted in an email some of the local accomplishments he’s been behind since taking his role as representative in 2011. Oliver mentioned investing $42 million in a new world-class Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest, and promising $2.6 billion for Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

“I want to continue to serve the values and interests of my constituents in
Eglinton-Lawrence as I have for over four years,” he wrote.

Perhaps in response to Mendicino’s high-profile nomination, and the name recognition enjoyed by Oliver, who has served as the federal minister of finance since 2014, former Saskatchewan finance minister Andrew Thomson is running as the federal NDP candidate for Eglinton-Lawrence.

Born in Saskatchewan, where he served as a member of the legislative assembly for 12 years, Thomson voluntarily traded politics for the private sector in 2007, and moved to Toronto to work for technology firm Cisco Systems, Inc. in 2008.

Andrew Thomson
CHALLENGER: Andrew Thomson was finance minister for the NDP in Saskatchewan until he left politics in 2007.

“Having that experience in both government and in business provides me with a good vantage point,” Thomson says. “It brings with it a set of pragmatism about how to get things done.”

In Thomson’s opinion, the NDP offers the only “balanced” platform between the three leading parties.

“It recognizes the need to make strategic investments in the economy, in infrastructure, in tax cuts for small and medium-sized business,” he says. “But it also looks at new investments in childcare and transit, and in support for middle-class families.”