3 min

Who’s running in your riding?

Looking at the candidates in Toronto

Credit: Xtra files

The election is well under way in Toronto’s gaybourhoods, and it’s entirely possible the city will have two openly gay MPs after Oct 14.

Liberal candidate Rob Oliphant – a United Church minister – is probably the frontrunner in the riding which was left with no incumbent after the resignation of Liberal John Godfrey. And Liberal incumbent Mario Silva should hold onto his seat in Davenport.

Common sense and a new study from Wilfrid Laurier University suggest Toronto ridings will mainly be fights between the Liberals and the NDP, with that fight being echoed in queer ranks.

That study – conducted by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy – was based on an Ipsos-Reid online poll of 36,000 people conducted on election day of Jan 23, 2006.

In the poll 1,484 identified themselves as gay or lesbian, with the vast majority living in major urban centres.

The study showed that only eight percent of gays and lesbians voted Conservative in 2006, as opposed to 37 percent of straights. Among gays and lesbians the Liberals scored 36 percent and the NDP 33 percent, as opposed to 25 and 20 percent respectively among straights.

However there was a significant difference between the voting habits of lesbians and gay men. Among lesbians in the survey 28 percent voted for the Liberals and 39.4 percent for the NDP. Among gay men 38.6 percent voted Liberal and 31 percent voted NDP. In all categories Liberal and NDP support was greater than among straights.

That study certainly bodes well for Liberal incumbent Bob Rae in Toronto Centre – which includes the gay village. Not that he needs any help.

Rae won the seat in a byelection on Mar 17, taking 59.5 percent of the vote. The NDP candidate – openly gay immigration lawyer El-Farouk Khaki, who is also running in this election – received 13.9 percent. Green party candidate Chris Tindal got 13.4 percent and Conservative Don Meredith got 12.3 percent.

In the byelection, according to Elections Canada, Rae swept even the polls in the heart of the queer village, taking some by more than three to one. The community seems to have forgiven Rae his transgressions against gays and lesbians as NDP premier in the ’90s. (For more on Rae’s history see

The Conservatives are running David Gentili, who formerly worked in Stephen Harper’s office and has a masters degree in public administration.

Gentili is replacing Chris Reid, the openly gay candidate who resigned from the race on Sep 20. Reid says he resigned because he wasn’t sure he was suited to be an MP, but admits the party pressured him to resign after the controversial contents of his blog Political Thoughts from a Gay Conservative came to light.

Green Party candidate Ellen Michelson is a retired schoolteacher.

In Don Valley West the riding is up for grabs after the retirement of Liberal incumbent John Godfrey. Gay United Church minister Rob Oliphant, running for the Liberals, is probably the favourite. Actor David Sparrow – who’s had parts in Corner Gas and Monk and was Manny the Butcher in the film Skinwalkers – is the NDP candidate. John Carmichael, the Tory candidate who runs a car dealership, was handily defeated by Godfrey in the last election. Green candidate Georgina Wilcock is the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Scarborough Hospital.

In Davenport Silva – first elected in 2004 – is favoured to hold his seat. The NDP is running immigration consultant Peter Ferreira, the Green candidate is transportation activist Wayne Scott and Theresa Rodrigues is running for the Conservatives for the third straight election.

In Toronto-Danforth, incumbent and NDP leader Jack Layton is the heavy favourite. His Liberal opponent Andrew Lang was the constituency manager for hugely popular Liberal MP Bill Graham in Toronto Centre. The Green’s Sharon Howarth is a community activist and cofounder of the Toronto Energy Coalition. Conservative Christina Perreault is in charge of government relations at the Ontario Medical Association and is a volunteer at the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.

In Trinity-Spadina NDP incumbent Olivia Chow is favoured. Chow is rid of her longtime Liberal nemesis Tony Ianno, but his wife, lawyer Christine Innes, is running for the Liberals instead. Stephen LaFrenie, the Green candidate, has worked and taught in Haiti and Jamaica and is a partner in Earth is Home, an alternative housing developer. Conservative Christine McGirr is a corporate analyst.

Parkdale-High Park may be one of the most interesting races in the country as incumbent NDPer Peggy Nash takes on Liberal leadership candiate and former MPP for the riding Gerard Kennedy. Rounding out the slate is Conservative Jillian Saweczko – a Tupperware consultant and manager – and the Green’s Rob Rishchynski, an information and technology manager.