Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett has served as MP for the federal riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s since 1997, but the former phsyician sounds as excited to be campaigning for the 2015 election as if she were running for the first time.
“I see it as re-applying for the best job in the world,” she says. “It is such an honour to represent the people of St. Paul’s.”
Asked to name her proudest legacy, Bennett cites what she calls the “St. Paul’s model” – much of the federal riding, which stretches roughly from Eglinton Avenue West in the north to Dupont Street in the south, and from Dufferin Street and Ossington Avenue in the west to Mount Pleasant Road in the east, neatly overlaps with the provincial and municipal versions of St. Paul.
Taking advantage, Bennett’s office regularly schedules town hall meetings that offer residents the chance to address herself, St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins, and Toronto councillors Josh Matlow, Josh Colle and Joe Mihevc all in one place.
“We have been referred to as a model of democracy between elections,” she says proudly, “working across all levels of government to listen to citizens and put forward the solutions that often are only developed in the trenches.”
NDP candidate Noah Richler (son of novelist Mordecai) is up front about the criticism facing his campaign: he lives in Cabbagetown, has no political experience, and is up against a candidate who, until 2011, won every election by at least 12,500 votes.
That said, he’s equally prepared with a rebuttal for each of them.
“I’d love to live in a city where housing was sufficiently affordable that it would possible to sell my house in one part of Toronto and move to another, but as anybody who lives here knows, that’s a very, very difficult proposition,” the author, broadcaster and journalist says. “But in truth, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, your needs are common across the city.”
He’s running as the NDP candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s because “the Canada I believe in and love is, I believe, seriously under threat, and it’s time to act.”
Richler says his campaign is founded on several principles. First, that a nation’s government should help those who are having a difficult time helping themselves; that government should defend its people against corporations; and that Canadians themselves should strive to share the conditions of their good fortune.
“It is authentically a time for change,” Richler says. “Change is not somebody who’s been in power for 18 years. Change is the NDP.”
By her own admission, Marnie MacDougall does not resemble the average candidate running for her party. The St. Paul’s Conservative candidate is a young woman, and is running partly because she would like to see more faces like hers among the ranks.
The more important reason is she believes the current election is a critical one for Canada.
“I think it’s very important that we have a strong, stable, Conservative majority government come October 20th,” she says. “Things are fragile globally right now with China and Greece, and I think that Stephen Harper and the Conservative government has the best plan to keep us on track.”
Born and raised in midtown, MacDougall attended Queen’s University for Politics and International Relations before being bitten by the travelling bug, winding up living in Panama for seven years, where she founded and ran a café, met her husband, and learned Spanish. After returning to Canada, she spent five years as chief of staff for two Conservative MPs.
As the wife of a newcomer, a former small business owner, and a political insider, MacDougall feels uniquely positioned to assist the people of St. Paul’s, many of whom are small business owners and immigrants themselves.
“I’m committed to making life easier and more affordable for Canadian families across the spectrum,” she says.