Ontario Liberals win allegedly important by-election in St. Paul’s

Sep 18th, 2009 | By | Category: In Brief
Liberal Dr. Eric Hoskins arrives at his post-election victory party. Vince Talotta/Toronto Star.

Liberal Dr. Eric Hoskins arrives at his post-election victory party. Vince Talotta/Toronto Star.

Anyone who hoped Dalton McGuinty’s governing Ontario Liberals were in for a setback in the St. Paul’s by-election in midtown Toronto yesterday will be disappointed. The Liberal candidate, Dr. Eric Hoskins won handily with 13,192 votes. His Conservative challenger Sue-Ann Levy managed only 7,851 votes, compared with 4,677 for Julian Heller of the NDP, and 1,515 for the Green Party’s Chris Chopik.

The most obvious interpretation is that none of the three main controversies allegedly battering an allegedly somewhat beleaguered McGunity government right now — recent spending scandals at E health Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, and the government’s plans to harmonize the federal and provincial sales taxes — had deep resonance among the people of  St. Paul’s. So Premier McGuinty was reported to be “jubilant” at Dr. Hoskins’s “jam-packed victory party at a Toronto pub.”

At the same time, this by-election was held because former cabinet minister Michael Bryant (much more recently involved in a tragic automobile accident) had resigned from Ontario politics to take a high-profile job with the City of Toronto. And there is some slight intrigue in comparing the 2009 by-election results with the results of the 2007 Ontario general election, in which Mr. Bryant also won St. Paul’s quite handily for the provincial Liberals.

In 2007 Michael Bryant won the seat with 1.79 times more votes than his Conservative challenger. In 2009 Eric Hoskins won with 1.68 times more votes than his Conservative challenger. So the much-hyped journalist Sue-Ann Levy did not prove to be a Tory giant killer. But she did do slightly better than her party had done in 2007.

Similarly, the Conservative candidate received 1.69 times more votes than the New Democrat in 2007, and 1.68 times more in 2009. (In both cases, by the way, the New Democrat was the locally much-respected lawyer Julian Heller.) So the notion that the New Democrats gained on the Tories in 2009 is only very slightly true.

Finally, the NDP won 1.89 times more votes than the Green Party in 2007, and 3.09 times more in 2009. Here at least some things actually have changed in the midtown Toronto version of Ontario politics, between the early fall of 2007 and the late summer of 2009. But who really knows what this means? And whatever it is, it’s not going to worry Premier McGuinty.

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