Although Liberal signage and campaign volunteers in T-shirts painted Toronto-Danforth red leading up to the federal byelection, politically, the riding remained orange.
Liberal candidate Grant Gordon failed to take the riding that was left vacant after the death of former NDP leader, Jack Layton.
In a race that came down to two first-time candidates, Gordon’s 28.5 percent of the vote was not nearly enough to beat NDP candidate Craig Scott, who finished with 59.4 percent.
“I am of course devastated and disappointed, but I can’t thank all of you enough,” Gordon told supporters at his campaign party at Whistler’s Grille.
The Liberals and their interim leader, Bob Rae, said they knew it would be an uphill battle from the outset. According to Gordon, at times it felt as if he was running against two NDP candidates, Craig Scott and the memory of Jack Layton.
“We knew that there were going to be profound feelings of loyalty to Mr. Layton, which are entirely understandable,” said Rae, who served as the riding’s MP from 1979 to 1982 while a member of NDP. “When Grant Gordon came forward and said he wanted to be a candidate in the byelection, it was a statement on his part about his feeling for the constituency and his feeling for the riding and his sense of what he would like to see happen in the future.”
Despite the wide margin of victory, many supporters said they felt as if the campaign was gathering momentum in the final stages. Former mayoral hopeful Sarah Thompson said she noticed a shift while helping with the campaign.
“It’s a different feeling in the riding that it was at the beginning,” she said before the polls had closed. “I canvassed right at the beginning and people seem to have turned so it will be interesting to see what the results are.”
One factor working against the Liberals was that they did not have as much time to campaign as the NDP did. Gordon was officially introduced as the Liberal candidate on Feb. 13 while Scott was named by the NDP on Jan. 9.
“We were very late out of the gate so that made it hard but you just do the best you can,” Gordon said. “We were gaining every single day from our research so we needed more time.”
Gordon, who coaches a house league hockey team, compared his loss in the political arena to a loss on the ice but mentioned that he would likely be back for another shot at the seat.
“It really is just like losing a hockey game,” he said. “We played great, we held our heads high and no we didn’t quite win, but this is just the first game of a series.”
In his speech, Gordon seemed gracious and upbeat in defeat and congratulated his opponent on the victory.
“You’re highly qualified and I wish you all the best of luck in Ottawa,” he said of Scott. “But alas, you poor bugger, you do have to go to Ottawa.”
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