Carolyn Bennett back in Toronto-St. Paul’s after divisive federal election

Longtime Liberal incumbent wins handily but expresses concern over dirty politics

Toronto-St. Paul’s MP Carolyn Bennett has never seen people write untruths and mail the information to people’s mailboxes in a political campaign before.

The 68-year-old doctor, who has represented the riding since 1997, found it troubling on the campaign trail and learned the misinformation did damage in some regions.

“It is cynicism ramped up on purpose to decrease voter turnout,” she told Streeter, while surrounded by supporters at the Midtown Gastro Pub on Yonge Street on election night. “We’re very lucky here in St. Paul’s that people just turn out to vote.

“In other places, if people become more cynical, they don’t vote.”Story continues below ad

Bennett won the riding handily, 32,256 votes to Conservative runnerup Jae Truesdell who had 12,579. The New Democratic Party rep Alok Mukherjee brought in 9,177 and the Green Party’s Sarah Climenhaga had 3,914. People’s Party of Canada candidate John Kellen rounded out the five at 924 votes with all polls reporting.

Bennett, who has held the riding since 1997, actually increased her margin of victory in this election compared to 2015. Then she beat Conservative Marnie MacDougall by more than 16,000 votes. This time she lengthened the margin to nearly 20,000 votes.

The NDP’s Mukherjee said he had been hoping the success at the provincial level — Jill Andrew taking a vacant seat from the Liberals — would translate into more success at the federal level.

“I’m very satisfied that we had a very issue-based, civilized campaign. We stayed focused on what is important, and of concern to the community,” he said while talking with supporters at the Gym Pub on St. Clair Avenue West.

He underscored the need for affordable housing, drugs and dental care, as well as dealing with the climate crisis.

“Even if we were not successful, because Dr. Bennett has a strong base, I think we laid the foundation for a good, strong conversation of these issues in this community,” Mukherjee said. “The national results mean the NDP will be in a serious position to advocate for these issues.”

Despite the nastiness at the national level, Bennett said she was encouraged by the engagement by residents.

“There have been elections where people didn’t say anything at the subway stops. I think this one, people were very proud to be Liberal, or express their loyalty. It did feel good. People in St. Paul’s are more concerned about the whole country. It’s not quite the same as [elsewhere],” she said, as fellow Liberal supporters Eric Hoskins and Josh Matlow milled about behind her. “A lot of the people here are big-picture people. They weigh everything seriously.”

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