‘Historic victory’ for NDP in formerly Liberal Toronto-St. Paul’s

NDP candidate Jill Andrew took the long-time Liberal riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s in the June 7 Ontario election in what she called a “historic victory for Toronto-St. Paul’s.”

At her victory party at the Midtown Gastro Hub on Yonge north of St. Clair she told reporters people told her during her campaign they wanted action on rent controls, school repairs and bringing “humanity” back to health care.

“What I heard at the door were people’s concerns about rent control, rent hikes that are unrealistic.… We’re going to crack down on above-guideline rent hikes,” she said above the din of supporters.

“I heard about our schools. We need to fix our schools. We have a $4-billion backlog here in Ontario. As an educator … I’ve seen the ceilings falling, I’ve seen the water in the buckets … We need to do better with our resources in our Toronto schools,” said Andrew, an equity advocate and columnist.

“We need to bring humanity back to our health care. We need to bring dignity back into our health care. Pharmacare and dental, I’m going to keep fighting for that,” said Andrew.

She spent most of her sometimes emotional 17-minute victory speech thanking team workers and supporters. She also thanked her opposing candidates “for running what I’m certain were hard-worked campaigns.”

As of 2 a.m. this morning, Toronto-St. Paul’s results stood at NDP 18,843, Liberals 17,495, PCs 13,780 and Green 1,690.

Since being formed in 1999, the riding had been held by Liberals, for the past nine years by Eric Hoskins, who has served as health minister in the Kathleen Wynne government.

A dejected Liberal candidate, Jess Spindler, told Streeter at her party at Scallywags Restaurant on St. Clair Avenue West near Yonge Street that her party, left with just seven seats in the province, is not going away.

“There are a lot of people who share Liberal values and are looking for a progressive, centrist government that’s compassionate and cares about people,” Spindler said. “In the days ahead there will obviously be a rebuilding exercise.”

Liberal supporter Ashley Paton called Spindler “an Integral person, a great human being and a great advocate for the community.” She said a major issue to be addressed by government is affordable housing.

Carla Wintersgill supported Spindler “because she’s smart, she’s dedicated. She truly cares about the people of this riding.”

PC candidate Andrew Kirsch said in a telephone interview that voters showed an overwhelming desire for change.

“We’ve seen a lot of waste and scandals — and people wanted something different,” said Kirsch. He said in his campaigning people told him they wanted fiscal responsibility.

“They really did not like the waste they were seeing. They hoped that would be cleaned up. I think that’s job one to manage the economy and take a look at the books and see where we can do better.”

Kirsch said he respected his opponents for stepping forward to offer their services in government.

Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne announced election night she’s resigning. as party leader. Official results show PCs with 76 seats, NDP with 40, Liberals with 7 and the Green Party with one.

At the NDP party Catherine Flaxman said she liked that her party treats people as being all on a level playing field. “It makes me really sad that other people don’t feel the same way as I do.”

Mid-evening, as the results were still coming in, NDP campaign organizer Liz Glor-Bell said Andrew ran a strong campaign. “We had a fantastic candidate,” said Glor-bell.

Asked how the NDP can keep a majority PC government in check, Glor-bell said people have mentioned filibustering to her. “I think we’ll have to do everything that is possible to do to keep them in check to stop privatization, to protect health care and to protect all the social services that Ontarians enjoy and deserve to have more of and to have improvements on.”