Liberals win by a hair in Don Valley West

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Don Valley West may not have been the walk in the park the Liberals thought.

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The large riding, which includes some of the wealthiest areas in the entire province, has been a Liberal stronghold since Kathleen Wynne was elected in 2003.

And Wynne managed to win even in 2018, when Ontarians overruled her as premier and decimated the party with their votes.

When Wynn decided not to run again, newcomer Stephanie Bowman became the Liberal candidate in the riding.

And Bowman clung to the riding in a bit of a Thursday night cliffhanger throwback. When the dust settled, she had won Conservative candidate Mark Saunders by just 1,600 votes.

Bowman, who comes from a financial background and recently served on the board of directors of the Bank of Canada, lived in Don Valley West for almost 30 years and raised a family there.

His main opponent, Saunders, had huge notoriety for him in this election, having served as Toronto’s police chief from 2015 to 2020.

He spent 38 years with the force.

After leaving police work, he served as a special advisor for the Ontario government’s redevelopment of Ontario Place and was part of the task force on the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Saunders does not live in Don Valley West — he lives in Etobicoke, as does Doug Ford.

Ford was determined to have a leading candidate in Don Valley West in hopes of finally defeating the Liberals. The strategy almost worked.

Third on the list is NDP candidate Irwin Elman, lifelong educator and former provincial child and youth advocate.

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He got just under 10% of the vote in Don Valley West.

It was Elman who described his constituency on Election Day as, “In many ways a metaphor for Ontario. It’s a huge riding with pockets of great wealth and communities with far less. It is a constituency of strong and vibrant neighborhoods.

Don Valley West includes neighborhoods such as Thorncliffe Park, Lawrence Park, the Bridal Path area, York Mills, Silver Mills and Leaside.

Elman said on Election Day that he was proud of his campaign and used it “to raise the voices of people who are often ignored – the elderly, young people marginalized from their rights, those struggling with mental health, those living with disabilities, people in communities marginalized from their rights, newcomers.

Green candidate Sheena Sharp finished fourth with 5.6% of the vote.