The Second World War was still two years away when any candidate other than a Progressive Conservative was elected to the Ontario Legislature as Burlington’s main representative.
Liberal Thomas A. Blakelock won the election in what was then the riding of Hal-ton in 1937 at a time when one of the major issues was whether Lakeshore Road would be widened in time to prevent merchants there from losing business to operators on the new Middle Road.
Seventy-seven years later, shopping malls represent the hub of retail business and the former Middle Road – now the QEW – is a busy multi-lane highway connecting Toron-to with the U.S. border. It has an average of close to 200,000 vehicles per day on some sections.
The only exceptions to Tory dominance occurred when Liberals Julian Reed, Donald Knight and Barbara Sullivan were elected
in the now-defunct ridings of Halton-Burl-ington and Halton Centre. However, those ridings covered only a small portion of the city in the north.
Traditionally, the old part of Burlington close to the lakeshore votes Progressive Conservative. However, over the last 24 years the Liberals have increased their share of the popular vote in the riding from only 17 per cent in 1990 to a peak of 42 per cent in 2003 before slipping back to 31 per cent in the last election in 2011.
During the same period the population has grown from 125,000 to 180,000 and most of the young families buying new homes in the northeast section are voting Liberal.
Progressive Conservative Jane McKenna polled 40.4 per cent of the vote to win the seat in her first attempt at provincial politics in 2011, outdistancing Liberal Karmel Sakran by 2,145 votes. Peggy Russell of the NDP finished third.
McKenna, who is running again, surprised a lot of people with the victory, since she had finished last in a five-candidate race for the Ward 1 seat on city council not long before that. Out to break the Tory winning streak this time are Liberal Eleanor McMahon, a former press secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chre-tien, and New Democrat Jan Mowbray, a former town councilor in Milton.
At a recent all-candidates meeting hosted jointly by the Halton District School Board and the Ontario Public School Boards Association, McMahon and Mow-bray both accused Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak of saying he would cut 100,000 jobs from the public sector.However, McKenna challenged that, claiming the jobs would disappear over a four-year period through attrition.
McKenna said the current Liberal government spends $1.5 million more per hour than it takes in.“We need to be a ‘have’ province again,” she said.
McKenna also said she has a list of 3,000 nurses who were fired by the Kath-leen Wynne government. McMahon said the Liberal government increased spending on education by 53 per cent in order to restore confidence in Ontario’s schools after years of neglect during the years Progressive Conservative Mike Harris was Premier.
Mowbray accused the Liberal government of cancelling the collective bargaining agreement with teachers and promised an NDP government would put it back in place.
During the meeting Mc-Mahon repeatedly agreed with comments Mowbray made and at times it appeared to be a gang attack against the incumbent McKenna.
McKenna, a former advertising account executive, lives in Burlington. McMa-hon also lives in Burlington, although her home in the northern part of the city is in the riding of Halton.
A former Liberal, Mow-bray lives in Milton but claims she spends half of her life in Burlington through a host of volunteer activities in which she is involved.
Also running in the riding of Burlington are Andrew Brannan of the Freedom Party of Canada, Meredith Cross of the Green Party and Charles Zach of the Libertarian Party.
The riding includes all of Burlington except the portion north of Dundas Street, north of Upper Middle Road (between Guelph Line and Walkers Line) and north of the QEW (between Walkers and Burloak Drive). That area is part of the riding of Halton
Tory Ted Chudleigh, who has been an MPP since 1995, is seeking re-election for the sixth time in the riding of Halton. He is being challenged by Liberal Indira-Naidoo Harris, whom he beat by more than 3,000 votes in 2011, New Democrat Nik Spohr, Susan Farrant of the Green Party, Kal Ghory of the Libertarian Party and Gerry Marsh of the Family Coalition Party.