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Blue wave in GTA suburbs helps seal PC majority

June 7, 2018
David Rider

Doug Ford’s Tory blue wave crashed through the 905 belt and into the edges of Toronto, sending the Progressive Conservatives to Queen’s Park with a majority government.

The New Democrats jumped into official Opposition status with wins in the centre of Toronto, defeating multiple Liberal incumbents and creating an island of orange surrounded by an ocean of blue in Scarborough, Etobicoke and the outer suburbs beyond.

The Liberals, who handily won the GTA in 2014, found themselves reduced to a tiny outpost with, at press time, a couple of seats including Don Valley West where it appeared Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne would hold on. That will be cold comfort since her journey from premier to head of a third-place rump will almost certainly see her leave politics.

“People were telling us, ‘We want change. We are tired. We don’t want Kathleen Wynne anymore,’” said Aris Babikian, who will become the first PC Scarborough-Agincourt MPP in decades after defeating Liberal incumbent Soo Wong.

The sentiment was the same in the 905, said Stephen Lecce, a Progressive Conservative who jumped to an early lead in King-Vaughan and never looked back.

Lecce, who campaigned on the party promise to reduce hydro rates and taxes while investing in health care, said: “The people of King-Vaughan and across the province were looking for change.”

The road to Queen’s Park leads inevitably through the GTA. The region has more than 50 seats -- almost half of them in Toronto -- out of a provincial total of 124.

Ford, the PC leader and next premier easily captured his Etobicoke North seat, unseating Liberal incumbent Shafiq Qaadri who had held it since 2003.

Christine Elliott, who lost the leadership to Ford and is expected to hold a senior cabinet position, won Newmarket-Aurora, defeating Liberal incumbent and former environment minister Chris Ballard.

The PCs weathered scandal during the campaign that saw several candidates replaced but it didn’t seem to hurt them in the 905 belt. They kicked out Liberals and only NDP wins in Brampton prevented a PC sweep.

Even an endorsement from beloved former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion wasn’t enough to save Charles Sousa, the former Liberal finance minister defeated by Randy Cuzzetto in Misssissauga-Lakeshore.

In Oakville, Stephen Crawford won for the PCs, beating Liberal incumbent Kevin Flynn and, in Thornhill, PC incumbent Gila Martow was easily re-elected.

The PCs failed to smash fortress Toronto but held seats and won some new ones.

Former city councillor Raymond Cho, 81, who won Scarborough North in a byelection, is going back to Queen’s Park. He defeated city councillor and Liberal Chin Lee.

A rare disappointment for the PCs on Thursday night came in Don Valley East, where star candidate Denzil Minnan-Wong, a city councillor and deputy mayor, appeared to have failed to unseat Liberal incumbent Michael Coteau.

Council colleague Shelley Carroll, who ran for the Liberals but was defeated by Progressive Conservative newcomer Vincent Ke, an electrical engineer.

The NDP dream of an “orange crush” happened, but mostly within the Toronto borders.

The New Democrats quickly took Parkdale-High Park. Bhutila Karpoche, 34, an ethnic Tibetan who moved to Toronto from Nepal when she was 18, will be the new NDP MPP after working for Cheri DiNovo who retired after 12 years as MPP.

In Davenport the NDP’s Marit Stiles ousted one-term Liberal incumbent Cristina Martins.

Peter Tabuns, as expected, held on to Toronto-Danforth where Liberal Li Koo mounted a challenge.

The NDP stopped a PC rout of the 905, with Gurratan Singh, brother of federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, elected in Brampton East. Next door in Brampton North fellow New Democrat Kevin Yarde held off a strong challenge from PC Ripudaman Dhillon.

In 2014 it was Wynne’s red Liberal wave that rolled across the GTA, knocking then-PC leader Tim Hudak out of office and unseating several NDP incumbents.