Ontario Election

York Centre is transforming into
a Conservative stronghold

TORONTO – Situated at the northern edge of the Toronto city limits is the electoral district of York Centre. It was created in 1999 (from parts of the former Downsview and Wilson Heights districts), and covers an area located within the North York community.

With its main industries like manufacturing, health care and construction, the riding has been a desirable place for 104,320 residents to call home. It is also popular among first-generation immigrants. For instance, 13,880 residents self-identify as Italian Canadian. They are among the largest ethnic group who originate from Europe and represent 13% of the district’s population.

Historically, the district was considered a Liberal stronghold when Monte Kwinter held the riding from 1999 up to his retirement in 2018. In the 2018 Provincial election, PC candidate Roman Baber won the seat with 50% support of the electorate (18,343 votes). The NDP took 23%, but the PC’s margin of victory was 9,817 votes. The Liberals only managed 21%.

In January 2021, the PC party leader removed Baber from caucus for opposing Covid-19 lockdown measures. He currently sits as an independent while he is a challenger in the federal Conservative Leadership race.

Michael Kerzner, area resident of over 25 years, is the PC candidate vying for the post in this election. When asked why he wants to represent the riding, he told the Corriere: “I want to ensure our education system is providing people with the skills for the jobs of today and those that will be in demand five, ten and twenty years from now”. If elected MPP, he said his aim is to, “crate a Centre of Innovation in the riding to help our next generation find their niche and accelerate in their careers”.

His closest contender is candidate Shelley Brown. He aims to build support for the Liberals, but did not respond to our request for comment as at time of going to print.

Meanwhile, candidate Frank Chu, aims to revitalize support for the NDP. He pointed to some key issues affecting local constituents that include, care for seniors, cheaper auto insurance rates, affordable groceries and improved access to healthcare. He expressed his focus: “to ensure government policies address the needs of York Centre”.

With about two weeks to go before election day, it would appear things seem poised for a similar outcome to the 2018 election. Only this time, the NDP and Liberals have switched positions. According to the most recent projections by 338Canada.com (May 16), the PC maintain the lead at 45%. The statistical prediction model uses algorithms and considers all major polls. It shows the Liberals at 30% followed by the NDP at 16%.

(Click here to download a PDF of the article which appears in the print edition)

P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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