West-end MPPs all running this fall

Cheri DiNovo, Donna Cansfield and Laurel Broten look for another term at Queen's Park

It may be early, but two area MPPs have already been confirmed as the nominated candidates for October’s provincial election.

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo was formally nominated as the NDP candidate January 27, while Etobicoke Centre MPP Donna Cansfield was confirmed as the Liberal candidate in her riding earlier that month. Although she was not yet officially nominated in mid-February, a spokesperson for Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten said her boss is very interested in running again.

With the incumbents staying in the ring, none of the other parties have yet nominated challengers in any of those ridings. While it’s not clear who will carry the banner for the challenging parties in each riding, some players are already predicting the sort of issues that will dominate the election chatter.

“The issues that are front and centre for our folk are pocketbook issues,” DiNovo said. “People are increasingly living pay cheque to pay cheque, worried that the next bill will put them under.

“This is an ongoing problem and it’s one this government isn’t addressing,” she added. “What we’re seeing across the province is the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the middle class disappearing.”

That’s a particular concern for the predominantly middle class residents of her riding, DiNovo said. The MPP added those worries are only compacted by the unpopular harmonized sales tax introduced by the Liberals last year.

“I’m hearing from small local businesses hurting,” she said. “They’re looking at huge increases in their utility bills at a time when they’re just trying to claw their way out of the recession.”

DiNovo said another major concern for her residents is the planned expansion of diesel train service through her riding and others, a move championed by the McGuinty government and bitterly opposed by groups of local activists who claim the trains will be dirty, noisy and detrimental to their health.

“All through The Junction area that’s going to be a problem. All sorts of groups are saying ‘don’t do this’, but they’re doing it anyhow. It’s absurd — the money they save now they’ll have to spend later to electrify the system. That’s a huge local issue,” she said.

Far from worrying about losing out to a Liberal challenger, DiNovo predicts the Liberals will be playing defence once the election ramps up.

“The HST alone is one of the most unpopular moves any government of Ontario has ever made,” she said. “The Liberals are sinking like a stone in the polls … It’s a sinking ship.”

In neighbouring Etobicoke Centre, Liberal incumbent Cansfield said she plans to stay on the ship, despite rumours she might disembark. Although rumours circulated that she might be planning to retire from politics after McGuinty demoted her in a cabinet shuffle early last year, Cansfield decided to run again after consulting with her community.

“I always said I would run for at least two (terms),” said Cansfield, who was first elected to the riding in 2003. “Then I said I would have that conversation with my community and ask those pretty difficult questions — am I doing a good job, am I effective, am I making a difference, and do you want me to stay or go. They’re not the most comfortable conversations to have, but they’re important.

“I got good feedback from my community… So I’m going to do this one more time.”

While she acknowledged budget issues will be important in the election, she said she’ll focus on issues affecting her community, such as ensuring medical services keep up with the aging boomer population.

“One of the things we need is a community hub for both our seniors and our school-aged children so they have some place to congregate,” she said. “We have seniors centres, but that’s not quite the same thing.”

And despite poll numbers that show Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak pulling ahead of her party’s leader, Cansfield said she’s optimistic.

“I think the most important thing is to be optimistic and move forward. Some really remarkable things have happened in this province in the last seven or eight years and I’d just like to continue to build on those,” she said.

Though she wasn’t available for an interview, one imagines Broten shares that optimism. First elected in 2003, she’s risen steadily through the ranks of the Liberal government to her current post as Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues.

About this article:

By: Joshua Freeman
Posted: Feb 25 2011 3:41 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto