Preliminary numbers released by Elections Ontario show voter turnout in the June 12 provincial election was up in several key Greater Toronto Area ridings, including Toronto Centre, the home of the Church-Wellesley Village.
Those numbers helped Kathleen Wynne lead the Ontario Liberal party to a majority government, in the process making history as the first openly gay woman elected as premier of a province in Canada.
More than 50,000 people cast votes in Toronto-Centre, with Liberal incumbent Glen Murray cruising to an easy victory with 29,799 votes. His next closest competitor, Progressive Conservative candidate Martin Abell, received fewer than 10,000 votes.
There was a five percent increase in voter turnout, to 53 percent, in Toronto Centre compared to the 2011 provincial election. That number will likely change as Elections Ontario releases the final number of registered voters and the number of declined and spoiled ballots.
In Trinity-Spadina, where NDP incumbent Rosario Marchese suffered a surprising upset at the hands of Liberal candidate Han Dong, voter turnout jumped 10 percent from last year. The hard-fought riding of Parkdale-High Park saw a similar increase, with about 60 percent of registered voters heading to the polls.
Brian Robinson, the supervising deputy returning officer at the Church Street Junior Public School polls, has overseen more than one election. “It’s usually always steady [turnout] in our area,” he says.
But at about 3pm in the tiny gym of the school in the heart of the Village, Robinson had seen a lot of new faces. “There are a lot of people who are coming who are not on the list who want to be on the list,” he says. “So that’s good.”
And while the fact that Ontario could make history by electing an openly gay premier was not far from people’s minds, other issues brought them to the polls.
Corrine Chan voted for the first time in what she says was a long time. A healthcare worker, she wanted to ensure that “healthcare goes in the right direction.”
Andres Hernandez, a student at Ryerson University, voted in the last provincial election but wasn’t fully aware of all the issues. “This time I took it upon myself to find out everyone’s arguments and point of view,” he says. Funding for schools and student loans motivated him to vote.
For others, a general sense of civic duty sent them to the polls. “I vote every election to count my voice and opinion,” Florencio Mendoza says. While he declined to say whom he voted for, he was confident in his choice. “I’m sure I voted for the right party.”