The challenge in Toronto-Centre.

It is something of a dry run. If Justin Trudeau is going to make a difference as Liberal Party leader in the federal election expected in 2015, the Liberals have to win the yet to be called Toronto-Centre by-election. It is the electoral district made vacant by the resignation of the Liberal’s recent interim leader Bob Rae. You would figure that the Liberals already have a leg up but you have to recognize that the New Democrats are just as determined and they also have a star candidate. It will be no cakewalk.

Toronto-Centre is the heart and soul of Toronto. It is written big. It is Yorkville, Moore Park and Rosedale, St. James Town, Cabbagetown and Regent Park, Moss Park, Trefann Court and The Distillery District.  It is streets such as Parliament, Sherbourne and Jarvis and Yonge and Bay. It is Church and Wellesley which is its own domain under the rainbow flag. It is citadels such as the Masonic Temple, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Eaton Centre, the ghost of the long-gone Mutual Street Arena, Massey Hall as well as the Anglican’s St. James Cathedral and the Catholic’s St. Michael’s Cathedral, Metropolitan United and Holy Trinity. It is St. Michael’s Hospital and the City Morgue.

Nobody runs just one campaign in Toronto-Centre. It is many campaigns. And be very careful of assumptions about any of the communities that make up this urban melange. You have to listen very carefully to all communities. And lots of luck to any party that tries to bring in anyone from somewhere else to manage its campaign. It has to be people who know the taste of these streets.

And you can count on the New Democrats to know that. They like to think they own Toronto’s downtown. They consider Toronto-Centre to be their domain as well as the adjoining ridings. They can turn out the troops from across the city and flood the riding. They will canvas not just to identify their vote but also to proselytize.

Some observers are suggesting that the NDP will be running a nastier campaign but in downtown Toronto, they have never been very friendly to Liberals anyway. There is also the possibility of a Conservative candidate acting as a political stalking horse to drive some of the Conservative vote toward the NDP. The Liberals have to be prepared. They have to be smarter.

You have two strong women candidates and they are up there with some of the smartest candidates we have ever seen go head to head. Either one will be a powerful asset in Ottawa. If the Conservatives pick some sacrificial guy, he is likely to be ignored.

But we will discuss the candidates once the by-election is called. You can never review the play until you have seen the actors speak their lines.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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