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Eleven ridings to watch in & around the GTA

Sizing up votes for a marriage recount

NO INCUMBENT. Liberal Omar Alghabra takes on Conservative Bob Dechert in Mississauaga-Erindale.

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Golden Horseshoe hold a total of 57 out of 308 House Of Commons seats and could decide the outcome of the Jan 23 federal election — whether we’re looking at a sharp turn to the right under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives or the Liberal status quo.

One of Harper’s first announcements this campaign was that he’d revisit same-sex marriage given the chance. So what impact could local ridings have on a reconsideration of the issue? In and around the GTA, 33 MPs voted for last year’s Bill C-38, the equal marriage bill, while 24 voted against. Of those in favour, eight are considered to be in danger of flipping to the antiequality side. Of those opposed, only three ridings, Oshawa, Guelph and Mississauga-Erindale, stand strong chances of winning over a previously anti-same-sex marriage vote.

Ajax-Pickering. Liberal Mark Holland is up against preacher Rondo Thomas for the Conservatives. Thomas, a pastor at the Toronto Christian Centre, has publicly argued that the definition of marriage can’t be changed to include same-sex couples because marriage “has been in place since Adam and Eve.”

Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot. Liberal Russ Powers is in tough against Conservative David Sweet. Sweet is the former president of Promise Keepers Canada, a group that calls for Christian men to reclaim their role as leaders on the basis that women are “natural followers.” Sweet has removed references to his connection with the Promise Keepers from his campaign website. “It’s understandable that Mr Sweet wouldn’t want voters to know his antigay views,” stated Egale Canada’s director of advocacy Laurie Arron in a media statement, “let alone his views about women.”

Barrie. Pro-same-sex marriage Liberal Aileen Carroll is again facing Tory Patrick Brown. Carroll beat out Brown by just 1,300 votes last election.

Burlington. Liberal MP Paddy Torsney is facing down Conservative Mike Wallace. Wallace’s 51-page policy docu- ment doesn’t mention same-sex marriage or his feelings on gay rights so he’s expected to vote with Harper. He didn’t respond to Xtra’s inquiries by press time.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Pro-same-sex marriage Liberal Michael Ignatieff faces off against Conservative John Capobianco. Ignatieff’s campaign manager told Xtra that Ignatieff’s “a very strong supporter of same-sex marriage and equal rights for members of the LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer] communities.”

Guelph. In a reversal of the trend, pro-same-sex marriage Tory Brent Barr is poised to defeat anti-same-sex marriage Liberal Brenda Chamberlain.

Newmarket-Aurora. Former Tory turned Liberal cabinet minister Belinda Stronach is now facing a difficult challenge from her Tory predecessor, Lois Brown. Stronach has been a long-time supporter of equal marriage.

Oakville. Liberal Bonnie Brown is up against Tory Terence Young, who was well known for his socially conservative views when he served as an MPP at Queen’s Park in the 1990s.

Peterborough. Retiring Liberal Peter Adams favoured same-sex marriage as does new candidate Diane Lloyd who is facing Tory Dean Del Mastro.

Mississauga-Erindale. Independent Carolyn Parrish, who voted against Bill C-38, isn’t running in this election. Parrish won as a Liberal, but was booted out of the party in November 2004 after making anti-American comments and criticizing Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberal party in general. Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra is favoured to fill the seat, which would be new vote in favour of same-sex marriage. That said, a win by Tory candidate Bob Dechert can’t be ruled out altogether.

Oshawa. Anti-same-sex marriage Tory incumbent Colin Carrie will again attempt to fend off Sid Ryan, New Democrat challenger and Canadian Union Of Public Employees head honcho. Carrie only beat Ryan last time by 463 votes.