While the Conservatives are gunning for seats in Toronto, the riding of Beaches-East York is seeing a different sort of battle.
Liberal MP Maria Minna has held the seat since 1993, while newcomer NDP candidate Matthew Kellway appears to be her top challenger.
Though she’s well liked in the community, Minna’s support has been declining over the years. Back in 2000, she won with just under 53 percent of the vote, while the NDP finished a distant second at around 21 percent. But in 2008 the NDP had narrowed that gap to under 10 percent.
With numerous NDP-represented areas surrounding the riding at all levels of government, the question is whether Beaches-East York is about to follow suit, or if the voters’ hearts are still with the Liberals.
“In this riding I feel very strong,” Minna said of her chances at being elected for the seventh time. “The electorate will decide and I’m hoping I win again.”
For her part, Minna, currently serving as official opposition critic for labour, attributes her longevity to her involvement in the community.
“I’m not just there because I’m a politician,” she said, referencing public meetings and numerous other ways she’s been involved in the community. “I have an obligation to be there because I care.”
Kellway says it’s his party’s time to shine.
“I think here in Beaches-East York we’ve had Maria Minna for 18 years and I think people are feeling that it’s time for a change in their local representation,” he said during a break in canvassing.
Kellway says there are two major factors that he feels have led to voters continuously re-electing the five-time incumbent.
“One, it’s the power of incumbency,” he said. “It’s always difficult to take on an incumbent year after year.
“The other thing I think, is people in Beaches-East York have been voting out of fear for a Conservative agenda for a long time and I don’t think we’re profiting from doing that.”
Expectedly, Minna disagrees. She says it’s her personal track record that the community recognizes.
“I represent the community aggressively,” she said, citing the creation of the community centre at Danforth Avenue and Main Street as one of her many successful initiatives.
“I don’t hold back on issues that matter to the residents. I have worked hard to bring programs to the riding that help the riding build a stronger community.”
Kellway, meanwhile, says he thinks the NDP is striking the same chord with the voters of Beaches-East York.
And Kellway says he is gunning hard for the Beaches-East York seat in the House of Commons, having been casually canvassing the riding since August.
“We’ll find out what happens on May 2nd, but so far I feel very confident,” he said. “I think we’ve got the right messages nationally and we’re touching on the right issues locally, so it all looks good.”
Also running in the riding are Bill Burrows for the Conservative Party, and Aaron Cameron for the Green Party.
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