In the 2011 Provincial Election of the 6 Bay Area ridings, only one race could be remotely described as being close—Burlington– where PC Jane McKenna nosed out Liberal challenger Karmel Sakran by just over 2,000 votes. In Ancaster-Flamborough-Flamborough-Westdale, Ted McMeekin defeated TV personality Donna Skelly by a comfortable 4,500 votes. The other races were blowouts—NDPer Monique Taylor delivered the biggest upset, ousting Liberal Cabinet member Sophia Aggelonitis by almost 6,000 votes. In the other three Bay area ridings, the winners—Andrea Horwath, Paul Miller and Tim Hudak all enjoyed margins of more than 10,000 votes in their respective victories.
So the question is, will it be different this time out? An unscientific sounding by the Bay Observer suggests some of the races will be closer this time and an upset or two is not out of the question. The race most political observers are watching is Hamilton Mountain, where Liberal Javid Mirza, a businessman with deep commu-nity roots is taking on NDP incumbent Monique Taylor. The Mirza campaign is said to be well financed and is attracting a large number of volunteers.
In 2011 the NDP targeted this riding, pouring large sums of money and union volunteers into the race. This time out, union support is not as certain given the NDP leader Andrea Horvath’s decision to vote against the Liberal budget—a move that was condemned by the private sector unions. Another factor that may help Mirza in an election where there is palpable anger at the Liberal record, is the fact that he, and Hamilton East Stoney Creek Liberal Candidate Ivan Luksic have distanced themselves from the government’s policies on LRT and the Niagara to GTA corridor. After some disastrous attempts to interfere in Hamilton Liberal affairs in the past, it appears the Liberal head office is listening this time. Kathleen Wynne’s radio commercials targeting Hamilton talk about all-day GO service but steer clear of the LRT issue. Albert Marshall is representing the PC’s who have not held the seat since 1999. Greg Lenko is the green Candidate and Hans Weinhold is running under the Libertarian Banner.
In Ancaster-Dun-das-Flamborough-Westdale it is a re-match between incumbent Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin, and Donna Skelly, the PC candidate. In addition to having one of the longest names of all the provincial ridings ADFW has also undergone several bouts of redistribution; the most recent seeing the riding shed Conservative-leaning Aldershot and replacing it with Westdale which has stronger Liberal and NDP inclinations. The core of the riding, however—Ancaster, Dundas and Flambor-ough– hasn’t changed in a century. As such it has a history of being something of a swing riding having elected MPP’s from all three major parties over the past 20 years. The Skelly campaign has capitalized on the government’s flip-flopping on the horse racing issue, and Skelly has been endorsed by the riding’s federal member, David Sweet. The race could hinge on the performance of NDP candidate Alex Johnstone who has considerable visibility in the riding as a School Trustee and a regular on Cable 14. A strong showing by Johnstone could siphon off Liberal votes at a time when polls suggest voters are undecided in large numbers. Environmental Activist Raymond Dartsch is the Green Party candidate. Glen Langton is running as a Libertarian.
In Hamilton East Stoney Creek lawyer Ivan Luksic is taking on the NDP incumbent Paul Miller. The riding has been represented by all three parties over the past 11 years, but in its current configuration leans towards the NDP. Luksic is a long time party stalwart, who was snubbed by the party when he sought the nomination in 2007. The result was Miller’s first victory. Last time out Miller won the riding by a landslide. The PC standard-bearer is land use planner David Brown. Also in the race, Gregory Zinc for the Green Party, Mark Burnison the Libertarian candidate and Freedom Party Candidate Britney Anne Johnston.
In Hamilton Centre Liberal Donna Tuqui-Shebib, a lawyer, is running against NDP leader Andrea Horwath for the second time. In 2011 Horwath ran up one of the biggest pluralities of any of the candidates winning by almost 15,000 votes. For vote watchers the interest in this race will be to see if the criticism of the NDP campaign from labour and other traditional NDP supporters is reflected at all in Horwath’s home riding results. The PC candidate in Hamilton Centre is John Vail, an accountant. Peter Ormand is running for the Green party. Peter Melan-son has registered for the Freedom Party. Long time Hamilton steelworker and labour activist Bob Mann is one of 11 Communist candidates registered in Ontario.
The other riding touching on Hamilton is the sprawling Niagara West Glanbook constituency—PC leader Tim Hudak’s seat. His opponents in this election are Liberal David Mossey, a steel sales executive, retired CUPE staff representative Brian McCormack for the NDP, Green candidate Basia Krzyzanowski, Libertarian Stefanos Karatopis and Geoff Peacock representing the Freedom party.
The 2014 campaigns are seeing a continuing trend towards the use of electronic media for polling and voter identification. For the beleaguered voter it means a steady diet of those supper hour phone calls especially in the ridings where the races are closer.