July 16, 2013 8:00 am
Updated: October 16, 2013 8:46 pm

Interactive: Your guide to Ontario’s five byelections, plus an up-close look at how they voted in 2011


WATCH: Global Toronto Queen’s Park reporter Alan Carter previews Ontario’s five byelections on The Morning Show.

TORONTO – Five upcoming byelections sparked by resignations of Dalton McGuinty and former cabinet members put a handful of red seats up for grabs. And the results mean nothing or everything, depending whom you ask.

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On the one hand, the byelections ultimately won’t make an enormous difference to the Liberal government, says Wilfred Laurier University political professor Geoffrey Stevens: Premier Wynne keeps a minority either way.

And the popular vote could speak volumes on the Ontario electorate’s feelings toward the leader of the Progressive Conservatives.

“I can argue that it might be more of a referendum on Tim Hudak – that if the Conservatives do badly in all five, that it would reflect very badly on him,” Stevens said. “It would put added pressure on him.”

But if Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives can wrestle just one riding away from the Liberals, said Nelson Wiseman, a politics professor at the University of Toronto, they could paint it as a marked shift in electorates attitudes towards Wynne’s government.

The results are “going to affect the fundamental tone of what happens in the legislature,” he said.

Wiseman suspects the Liberals will lose at least one, and figures the Progressive Conservatives have “a crack at a couple.”

“If they win, even one riding,” he added, “they’ll feel that the wind is in their sails.”

The five ridings voted overwhelmingly Liberal in the 2011 election: Each Liberal candidate beat the runner up by more than 23 per cent of the total vote.

But past victories don’t foretell future success. On an August long weekend, the ability to get people to polls just might.


The departing incumbent: Former Minister of Education Laurel Broten, shifted to intergovernmental affairs in Wynne’s Cabinet, resigned last month. In the 2011 general election she won the riding by 9,164 votes – a margin of 42.7 per cent.

The candidates: 

Peter Milczyn – Liberal

Doug Holyday – Progressive Conservative

P.C. Choo – NDP

The race: This byelection pits two veteran city councillors – both representing Etobicoke, both allies of Mayor Rob Ford – against each other. Holyday was Etobicoke’s last pre-amalgamation mayor; Milczyn has represented this area in city hall for years.

Stevens suggests this will be a tight and exciting race but thinks the Liberals may come out on top.

“Doug Holyday is pretty popular out in Etobicoke, but the Conservatives are pretty weak out there, which makes me think they [the Liberal party] can probably hold on. They’ve got a pretty good candidate.”

The details: Lots of red in this riding last election. Holyday, whose name is known and who has the mayor’s backing, may still have a tough fight ahead if he wants to take it. Use the interactive map below to see who won each polling station in this riding. Use the dropdown menu to look at party results separately.
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London West

The departing incumbent: Former Energy Minister Christ Bentley, who was facing contempt motions over his handling of gas plant documents when McGuinty prorogued the legislature last fall, won his seat with 8,007 more votes than his closest competitor.

The candidates:

Ken Coran – Liberal

Ali Chahbar – Progressive Conservative

Peggy Sattler – NDP

The race: This may turn out to be one of the most high-profile and controversial ridings: Just a few months ago, Liberal candidate Ken Coran,  President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, was publicly denouncing the provincial Liberals over contracts imposed on teachers.

“That’s potentially a three-way race. I don’t think any of the others are,” Wiseman said, adding that he thinks Coran one of the most interesting candidates running.

“In London-west, the Liberals have screwed up the nomination,” Stevens said. “And I think there is a fair bit of local controversy about [Coran] and he doesn’t seem like a very strong candidate. He’s said some fairly dumb things and the NDP is strong in London-west.” 

The riding voted overwhelmingly Liberal in 2011: Chris Bentley won the seat handily. However, the NDP has a strong local organization, Stevens said, adding that byelections can sometimes be “local popularity contests.”

A February poll by Forum Research suggested the London-West byelection would be a tight race with the PCs leading with 34 per cent of the vote, the Liberal with 30 per cent and the NDP with 28 per cent.

The details: The 2011 election painted the riding predominantly red, but there are patches of orange and blue in its east and west ends, respectively. Use the interactive map below to see who won each polling station in this riding. Use the dropdown menu to look at party results separately.
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Ottawa South

The departing incumbent: Former Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned last fall and came under fire for proroguing the legislature just as his government was being scrutinized over the cost of cancelled gas plants. In 2011, he won the riding by 6,897 more votes than the runner up – a margin of 31.6 per cent.

The candidates:

John Fraser – Liberal

Matt Young – Progressive Conservative

Brownwyn Funiciello – NDP

The race: The riding has voted Liberal since 1987, with McGuinty`s debut at Queen`s Park – but will it stay Liberal?

A July 3 Forum Research poll suggested Liberal candidate and long-time McGuinty aide John Fraser could take 42 per cent of the vote compared to Matt Young’s 38 per cent. However with a margin of error of five per cent, it could go either way.

It may be too close to call but Stevens said his “hunch” is that the Liberals will hold on to the riding. Wiseman suggests the conservatives have a “crack” at the riding given McGuinty’s flagging popularity.

The details: This has been a Liberal redoubt for more than two decades, but there may be enough pockets of Tory support, and enough discontent with the governing Grits, to make this a closer race. Use the interactive map below to see who won each polling station in this riding. Use the dropdown menu to look at party results separately.
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The departing incumbent: Margarett Best, a former cabinet minister who’d been on leave for medical reasons since February, won the 2011 general election by 6,470 – a margin of 41.5 per cent.

The candidates:

Mitzie Hunter – Liberal

Ken Kirupa – Progressive Conservative

Adam Giambrone – NDP

The race: This byelection was interesting to begin with, pitting Giambrone, thought to be a strong candidate for Toronto mayor before he left city politics amid questions about his sex life, against Hunter, prominent as head of non-profit advocacy group CivicAction.

Then the Liberals added subways to the mix, reversing course last week when Transportation Minister Glen Murray said the province might pay to extend the Bloor-Danforth line east instead of building light-rail transit as planned. Meanwhile, Giambrone and Hunter have forgotten or disavowed their previous preferences for light rail several years ago. Wynne said earlier this week that the subway talk coincided with the byelection by coincidence.

“What you don’t know is, Adam Giambrone, running for the NDP, how much vote he is going to take away from the Liberals,” Stevens said. “It seems to be that the Liberals should hold that seat. They’ve got a pretty well established local candidate.”

The details: New Democrats were shut out of this riding in 2011. It’s possible Giambrone’s name recognition will help change that. Use the interactive map below to see who won each polling station in this riding. Use the dropdown menu to look at party results separately.
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The departing incumbent: The Windsor-Tecumseh riding was the least solid Liberal victory of the five from the 2011 election. Former Finance Minister Dwight Duncan won the riding by just 3,718 votes over the runner up: A margin of 23.3 per cent over New Democrat Andrew McAvoy.

The candidates: 

Jeewen Gill – Liberal

Percy Hatfield – NDP

Robert De Verteuil – Progressive Conservative

The race: Both Stevens and Wiseman see this riding going orange, thanks in part to old-fashioned grassroots organizing.

“Andrea Horwath and the NDP should pick up the byelection in Windsor and that would give them a bit of momentum and an extra seat,” Stevens said “The NDP was the second-place party in there and they’ve got a much better organization than anyone else.”

He added that he thinks the Liberals have already conceded the riding.

A recent poll by Forum Research suggested that Hatfield would take win in a landslide with 52 per cent of the decided voters favouring him. The Liberals, who currently hold the riding, are a distant third with just 17 per cent of the decided voters. The Conservatives have 22 per cent.

The details: There was significant NDP support in the 2011 election, and several polling stations where the Grits and Dippers tied. Use the interactive map below to see who won each polling station in this riding. Use the dropdown menu to look at party results separately.

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