US embassy cable - 07TORONTO44

NDP PICKS UP LIBERAL SEAT IN ONTARIO BY-ELECTIONS

Identifier: 07TORONTO44
Wikileaks: View 07TORONTO44 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Toronto
Created: 2007-02-09 16:54:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PGOV PINR CA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO3724
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0044 0401654
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091654Z FEB 07
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1808
INFO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 1490
RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS TORONTO 000044 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O.12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PINR CA 
SUBJECT: NDP PICKS UP LIBERAL SEAT IN ONTARIO BY-ELECTIONS 
 
Sensitive But Unclassified - protect accordingly. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  Ontario's major political parties split three 
Toronto-area by-elections on February 8.  The ruling Liberal Party, 
held onto one seat, but lost one to the New Democratic Party (NDP). 
The Conservatives held onto their seat.  Though the Liberals have a 
large majority in the Ontario Legislature, their loss of another 
riding to the NDP should energize both opposition parties in the 
run-up to the October 10 general election.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) In three February 8 Toronto-area provincial by-elections, 
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal Party kept one seat but 
lost another to the NDP, while the Conservatives held their seat. 
Of the 103 seats in the Ontario Legislature, the Liberals will now 
have 69, the Conservatives 24 and the NDP 10.  The Liberals have now 
lost 8 out 10 by-elections since they took power in 2003. 
 
3. (SBU) The NDP win was in York South-Weston, one of the poorest 
ridings in Ontario, with a 7.9% unemployment rate.  The winner, NDP 
businessman Paul Ferreira, a first-time political campaigner, faced 
political rookies running for the Liberals and the Conservatives. 
Ferreira campaigned on the NDP's plan to raise the provincial 
minimum wage from C$8 to C$10 an hour.  The Liberals support an 
increase in the minimum wage, but oppose an immediate hike. 
Ferreira also campaigned against the Liberal-led legislature's 
decision to vote itself a 25% pay raise.  Ferreira won 43% of the 
vote to the Liberal's 41%, winning by just 358 votes. 
 
4. (SBU) The other two seats remained with the party that won them 
in the 2003 general election.  The Liberals held onto their seat in 
Markham, where Liberal businessman and first-time campaigner Michael 
Chan faced political novice Conservative Alex Yuan and the NDP's 
Janice Hagan.  Chan won 49% of the vote to the Conservative's 35% in 
an election where the main issue was reducing traffic gridlock. 
Markham had been safe Conservative territory until 2003, when 
Liberal Tony Wong was elected.  Markham's demographics are unusual - 
one-quarter of residents report Chinese as their mother tongue. 
Chan, Yuan, and the previous incumbent Wong all immigrated from Hong 
Kong. 
 
5. (SBU) The Conservatives held onto their seat in Burlington, a 
Conservative stronghold since 1943.  Conservative Joyce Savoline, 
former head of the Halton regional government beat a Liberal former 
City Councilor and an NDP political novice by a margin of 49% 
Conservative to 41% Liberal (a 3% larger margin than in 2003), and 
just 6% NDP.  The main issue was improving services at the regional 
hospital. 
 
6. (SBU) COMMENT:  Pundits are spinning these by-election results as 
a preview of the October 10 provincial general election and, noting 
that the Liberals have lost 8 of 10 by-elections since they took 
office in 2003, predicting a tough season for the Liberals.  We more 
cautiously note that cold weather helped ensure low voter turnout, 
and only one riding switched hands by a small margin.  The NDP's win 
in York South-Weston is their third capture of a Liberal seat since 
2003.  This will likely energize both opposition parties as they 
prepare for the October 10 general election.  The Markham 
by-election also demonstrates the importance of ethnic voting in the 
Greater Toronto Area in general and the growing political influence 
of the Chinese community in particular.  The Green Party was not a 
factor in these by-elections, receiving only 5% of the vote in 
Markham, 3% in Burlington, and 1% in York South-Weston.  END 
COMMENT. 
 
NAY 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04