In her home riding of Don Valley West, Kathleen Wynne faces a big test

Photo: Toronto Star

 

Leaside business executive Blair Morrison sums up the conundrum facing voters in Don Valley West on Thursday.

“This is a tough one,” says Morrison, who has lived in the riding since 1990 and has voted Liberal and Progressive Conservative “but never NDP.”

“The provincial Liberal government has been in power for a long time and there’s a feeling that change is necessary,” he says.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, premier since 2013 and Don Valley West MPP for almost 15 years, “has a lot of baggage.”

“But Kathleen is at our kids’ schools for their graduations; she’s been our MPP; and she’s been our premier,” says Morrison, who would have leaned toward the Tories in this election but for their leader, Doug Ford.

“I voted for Rob Ford and regretted that decision for a long period of time,” he says of the Tory chief’s late brother, who was Toronto’s controversial mayor between 2010 and 2014.

Morrison says Ford’s “lack of a platform” that is fully costed is troubling and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is not to his electoral taste.

“So I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for,” he says, adding he wishes Ford’s runner-up in the March 10 PC leadership was at the top of the ticket.

“If Christine Elliott was the leader, it would be a no-brainer. But I won’t decide until the day before the election.”

While Kathleen Wynne is on the ballot in Don Valley West, Doug Ford is not.

Jon Kieran, an energy consultant, is the PC candidate directly facing off against Wynne.

“Kathleen Wynne has been a highly successful politician,” Kieran acknowledges.

“But all across Ontario there is a referendum on her leadership and here in Don Valley West there is a referendum on her locally,” says the one-time speech writer in the Tory government of premier Bill Davis in the early 1980s.

“I am in a unique position because Kathleen Wynne is on the ballot,” he says, noting electricity bills and gridlock, due largely to the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown, are major issues with voters.

Asked if Wynne being the local Liberal candidate makes things easier when he is at doorsteps canvassing, Kieran is unequivocal: “Yes, absolutely.”

NDP candidate Amara Possian, a community organizer, says she was surprised by the warm reception “campaigning in Kathleen Wynne’s neighbourhood,” near Eglinton and Mount Pleasant.

“It seems like a lot of people are shifting. They are disappointed with the Liberals or worried about a Ford premiership,” says Possian, who got a boost from the central campaign when Horwath stopped by Friday.

“There’s this desire for change. But people are worried about the social and economic implications of a Ford government,” she says.

Possian emphasizes “there is a lot of respect for Kathleen Wynne in this riding.”

“I feel that way, too. But there’s also a lot of disappointment. Especially over the sale of Hydro One,” she says, referring to Wynne’s 2015 sale of the majority share of the provincial transmission utility to bankroll transit infrastructure.

“People like Kathleen Wynne as a person, but they are disappointed with her record.”

In a constituency that includes Lawrence Park, Leaside and Thorncliffe Park, Wynne, who defeated then PC leader John Tory in the riding in 2007, admits “I’ve got a fight.”

However in an interview conducted before she conceded Saturday that her party cannot win province-wide, the Liberal leader adds she’s “pretty happy with the way things are going” locally.

“But I never take anything for granted, so we’re in constant contact with the team,” she says.

“Obviously I am not there as much as I would like to be — I’m not really there at all — I’m sending little videos to them every morning. I’ve got a great team. We’re not taking any of the 124 (ridings across the province) for granted.”

Green party candidate Morgan Bailey, who works in computer software sales, says he is hearing from voters that they want change.

“It’s going really well. People are really receptive to the Green party. They’re concerned about congestion and development, and concerned about local businesses,” says Bailey.

But when asked if Wynne’s name comes up much at the doors, he is circumspect.

“I focus on the policies of the Green party rather than talk about the bad things about Kathleen Wynne. People do like her, but they’re looking for alternatives.”

Civil engineer Anto Khatchadourian is one of those voters seeking a change.

“I would like to see Kathleen Wynne defeated even though last time I voted for her,” says Khatchadourian, who will vote NDP this time.

“It’s not personal, it’s her program.”

Cartoonist Log McQuaig, who was taking photos of Horwath’s campaign bus in Leaside on Friday, agrees change appears in the air.

“I would love to have a change. I like Horwath. I love the NDP. But I am a little concerned about the split of the vote in this riding,” said McQuaig, whose sister is journalist Linda McQuaig, a past NDP candidate and a freelance Star columnist.

“I’m going with Kathleen now because I’m afraid in this riding the NDP’s not strong enough and I don’t want to split the vote. The Conservatives are very strong and I want to stop Doug Ford for sure.”

Source :

Toronto Star

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


fifteen − 9 =