Former MP wins Don Valley West back from Conservative in Liberal sweep of Toronto
Outside The Local people were being turned away as the bar was packed to capacity Monday night.
Inside a raucous, jubilant crowd slapped backs with nary room to scratch an elbow.
A DJ spun out-of-place dancehall music, and as the federal Liberals were declared majority government victors Pitbull and Ke$ha’s “Timber” trumpeted the fall of the Conservative, Stephen Harper era.
Don Valley West’s new but returning MP, Rob Oliphant, penetrated a phalanx of his supporters when entering. He had previously been elected to office from 2008 to 2011 after taking over from Liberal John Godfrey.
Four years ago, Oliphant was passionate about his defeat, but this time around he said it was a better night.
“It was a cleaner campaign. What we did in our campaign was we never responded to the other side. What we kept doing was a positive message, and that came right from Justin Trudeau,” he told the Town Crier. “We took the high road, and I think Canadians over the last four years have been looking for the high road.”
Oliphant earned 27,410 votes, compared to incumbent and Conservative candidate John Carmichael who had 19,206. The New Democratic Party’s Syeda Riaz grabbed 3,076 votes and the Green Party’s Natalie Hunt picked up 848. Voter turnout for the riding was 72.45 percent.
Most of the success was attributed to thorough communication from the top down, Oliphant said, adding he had a fantastic team led by campaign manager Angela Bonfanti.
“The support that we have had from this campaign, from everybody around me, from the leadership campaign has been unwavering,” Oliphant said. “We have had constant communication, constant support and instantaneous responses. It’s been fantastic.”
John Carmichael, gracious in defeat, arrived at The Local from his own party at the Amsterdam Brewery on Esandar Street. He addressed the crowd at Oliphant’s behest and thanked the people of the diverse riding.
The two bantered like old chums, in this their third contest against each other. “Carmichael has been looking after my spot while I was away,” Oliphant quipped.
Since the riding’s creation in 1979, it has alternated from blue to red. It also has one of the highest Muslim populations in Canada.
It was an issue raised by Oliphant in his victory speech, and afterwards to reporters.
“Very first thing I need to do is get rid of Bill C-24 which creates two-tiers of citizenship,” he said. “I want to work on that and work with the government to make sure we can have a place where a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and that’s a big part of what our riding wants.”