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Saturday October 18, 2008

Tories advance while Liberals retreat


The huge national election defeat suffered by Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has provoked an earthquake that has upset the status quo in Ontario ridings. The Liberals lost significant ground in Peel and Durham regions, while they completely disappeared in Hamilton and Niagara areas. The only consolation for the Liberal Party is their substantial holdings in Toronto, where a decrease in overall votes was compensated for by the conquest of a closely contested riding — that of Parkdale — where Liberal Gerard Kennedy defeated New Democrat Peggy Nash, and the re-election of Liberal candidates for the 19 ridings won in 2006. The NDP lost one seat in the GTA, while the Conservative Party, once again, is left empty-handed.
In the 905 region, however, there was a complete capsizing in the political equilibrium of recent elections: The Grits barely managed to hold on to 12 of their 17 seats, which were won in 2006, while the Conservatives increased their holdings from 3 to 8 seats. The New Democrats never made it out of the starting gate.
In the Hamilton and Niagara regions, the Liberals reset their tally to zero, while Conservatives gained slightly, (from 6 to 7 elected candidates) as did the NDP (from 3 to 4).
As far as Italian-Canadians candidates were concerned, there were 12 candidates of Italian origin who won their riding: 11 were incumbents, while one – Paul Calandra – will have his first experience on Parliament Hill.
The battle for the conquest of Toronto
Toronto and its surrounding areas is one of the few in Canada where the Liberals were able to not only stop the impact of the Conservative tidal wave, but also to increase their own holdings — from 19 to 20 seats — at the expense of the NDP.
Many Liberal exponents were re-elected by popular demand: Mario Silva, Yasmin Ratansi, Bory Wrzesnewski, Michael Ignatieff, Carolyn Bennet, John Cannis, and John McKay all won their respecting wards with a healthy margin. For other Liberal candidates – Judy Sgro, Bob Rae, Ken Dryden, Martha Hall Findlay – winning a seat was a mere formality, while two Italian Canadians – Maria Minna and Joe Volpe – had to work hard to get the better of their respective opponents.

The Liberal feat in the GTA continued with the Gerard Kennedy win against incumbent Peggy Nash, the re-election of Alan Tonks, Jim Karygiannis, and Dereck Lee. Good results – and in part unexpected – in three ridings where the seat was vacant: There were Grit victories with Rob Oliphant, Michelle Simson, and Kirsty Duncan. As far as the NDP, only their leader Jack Layton and wife Olivia Chow were able to stop the Liberal wave by winning in their respective wards.
The Peel-Durham region shakeup
The embankments erected by the Liberals to quell the Conservative onset fell in the 905-area. Meanwhile, the NDP didn’t even manage to create a single opening on a traditionally hostile electorate. The Conservatives were up to the task of winning 8 ridings, while the Liberals dropped from 17 to 12. Many of the Liberal defeats in this area stung heavily. Voters have not forgiven, for example, the Garth Turner about-face when he won with the Tories in 2006 only to join the ranks of the Liberals. Turner was soundly beaten in Halton by Conservative Lisa Raitt. Also defeated was outgoing MP Omar Alghabra who lost to Bob Dechert.
Oak Ridges was the scene of one of this election’s biggest surprises. The Italian-Canadian Tory candidate Paul Calandra wrested a seat from Liberal Lui Temelkovski. In Oakville, Grit Bonnie Brown was defeated by Conservative Terence Young, while in Thornhill, Peter Kent took a seat away from Susan Kadis. Comforting news on the Liberal front came with the re-election of Ruby Dhalla, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mark Holland, Albina Guarnieri, John McCallum, Dan McTeague, Paul Szabo, and Byron Wilfert.
Finally, there was nothing to be done for the only New Democratic candidate who had slim hopes of victory: NDP candidate Mike Shields was defeated by Conservative Colin Carrie in Oshawa.
The Liberal collapse in Hamilton-Niagara
If the Grits suffered a bitter thrashing in 905, in Hamilton-Niagara they were literally wiped off the political map. Before Oct.14’s election shakeup, the Liberal Party held two seats in this area and was at least in the game for four others. In Brant, outbound MP Lloyd St. Amand was clamorously defeated by Conservative Phil McColeman who won his rematch after losing in 2006.

In the Welland riding, Liberal exponent John Maloney came in third no less, overtaken by both New Democrat Malcom Allen and Conservative Alf Kiers in a battle decided by just a handful of votes. As far as other ridings, the NDP won again in its Hamilton stronghold, with respective victories by colleagues David Christopherson, Wayne Marston, and Chris Charlton. Finally, also winning as if playing from a script, were David Swet, Mike Wallace, Immigration Minister Diane Finley, Rob Nicholson, Dean Allison, Rick Dykstra, and John Maloney.
Italian Canadians re-elected en masse
Eleven out of eleven. This is the brief synthesis of the outcome of incumbent MPs of Italian origin who sought re-election. Returning to Parliament Hill, therefore, are Liberals Joe Volpe, Maria Minna, Anthony Rota, Judy Sgro, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Massimo Pacetti, Albina Guarnieri, Raymonde Folco, and Francis Scarpaleggia. Accompanying them will be the two Conservative victors Rick Casson and Dean Del Mastro, along with surprise-winner Paul Calandra.
As far as other candidates, the most scorching defeats were surely those of Di Ianni and of Richard Lorello. The first was cleanly beaten by New Democrat Wayne Marston in the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek riding, while the second lost an all-Italian derby in Vaughan to Liberal veteran Maurizio Bevilacqua.