York Centre, a former Italian
and Jewish stronghold

di Priscilla Pajdo del August 19, 2021

TORONTO - At the northern edge of the Toronto city limits is the electoral riding of York Centre. Traditionally a Liberal stronghold, it was the landing spot of choice for “name candidates” seeking a “safe” electoral district on their way to Cabinet: former Toronto mayor Art Eggleton and former Canadiens goalie, Ken Dryden among them. Incumbent Ya’ara Saks seeks to retain her seat for the Liberals.

She has been representing the riding since being elected to office in the October 2020 by-election, when she was supported with 45.7% of the vote. Conservative candidate Julius Tiangson garnered 41.8%.

Saks succeeded Michael Levitt following his resignation in 2020. Levitt represented the riding after winning the district back from the Conservatives in the 2015 election. In the 2019 federal election, he won 50.2% of the vote. The Conservative candidate managed only 36.7%.

This will be the second time during the pandemic that electors in York Centre will be headed to the polls. Candidates are looking to break the Liberal hold over the riding. Saks, a community advocate and former small business owner, is up against Conservative candidate Joël Etienne, an immigration lawyer who once sought election in Eglinton Lawrence. Candidate Kemal Ahmed aims to garner more support for the NDP. Nixon Nguyen is the candidate selected by the People’s Party of Canada. No candidate has been named for the Greens.

According to the latest projections by 338Canada.com (August 17), which uses algorithms that take into account results of all major polls, the Liberals are ahead of the Conservatives by 4.6%.

With a population of 104,320 residents, the riding is home to a number of culturally diverse ethnic groups. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016 (most current data available), Filipinos make up 17% of the population. Italians, another significant cultural group, represent 13% of the constituents in the district.

Other ethnic groups include Russian, at 9%, and Polish, at 7%. A considerable portion of constituents in the riding also self-identify as Jewish, 6%. It is generally understood that Jewish ethnicity and religion are interrelated. In some cases, these groups may overlap.

Candidates were not available for comment prior to going to print.

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