Whose race is it to win?

Without an incumbent the Don Valley East riding is seen as wide open

Without an incumbent the Don Valley East riding is seen as wide open

David Caplan’s successor in Don Valley East will have some high expectations to meet, according to active community groups that are keeping a close eye on the wide-open race.

With the longtime MPP retiring from politics, the campaign for the seat is hotly contested between hopefuls for all the three major parties: Michael Coteau for the Liberals, Bob Hilliard for the New Democrats, and Michael Lende for the Progressive Conservatives.

The riding, which according to the 2006 census, is home to nearly 110,000 residents, is made up of a diverse mix of neighbourhoods bounded by Finch Avenue to the north, Victoria Park Avenue to the west, Sunrise Avenue to the south and Leslie Street to the east.

Issues of importance to residents, which include both homeowners and renters, are as diverse as the riding itself.

President of the Henry Farm Community Interest Association, Namby Vithiananthan said two of the bigger issues his association is hoping the new MPP will support is the mayor Ford-proposed Sheppard subway line extension, and also reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board, a quasi-judicial planning panel.

“We are concerned about the role of OMB because it’s not necessarily conforming to the wishes of the community, as well as sometimes the city,” said Vithiananthan.

The parties have chosen some prominent candidates to run in Don Valley East, as name recognition could be a factor in this race’s outcome.

Vithiananthan said Toronto District School Board trustee Coteau is well-known among many parents in the area, and his political background at the municipal level could help his chances.

PC Lende is a successful businessperson, becoming the first regional vice-president of Zipcar Toronto back in 2006.

Bob Hilliard, a pediatrician at Hospital for Sick Children, is getting support for being a well-spoken candidate.

Vithiananthan predicted the race will be close, likely with a heavy influence from New Democrat support.

“I think the NDP vote is going to be pretty high so they may have a good, close race for that reason,” he said.

During May’s federal election, longtime Don Valley East Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi lost her seat to newbie Conservative Joe Daniel in an upset.

Vithiananthan suggested that result was due to a vote split, in which the NDP swayed votes away from the Liberals, effectively facilitating a Conservative win.

Victoria Village Community Association’s president Michael Dosman agreed with Vithiananthan that the race will likely be too close to call, especially given the riding’s voting history both federally and provincial. Federally, the riding has been represented by both Liberals and Conservatives.

“We’re in a swing riding, so it’s really anybody’s horse race,” Dosman said.

He suggested that with three novice candidates, it’s party leaders who will be perhaps dictating votes in Don Valley East.

He noted transit was also of particular issue his association, and they’ll press the their MPP to advocate either for more funding for the TTC, or to have the province upload responsibility of the TTC in order to free up the municipal funds derived from property tax.

Also in the running is Aren Bedrosyan for the Greens, and Wayne Simmons for the Freedom party.

About this article:

By: Karolyn Coorsh
Posted: Oct 4 2011 12:57 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto