A newcomer has defeated a giant in Trinity-Spadina.
After a hard-fought campaign, Liberal candidate Han Dong has edged out longtime NDP incumbent Rosario Marchese. Dong said he has been “humbled” by his supporters in his fight against a veteran.
“It’s not an easy battle, that’s for sure,” Dong told the Star shortly after arriving at his victory party at the Polish Combatants Hall. “I couldn’t ask for a better campaign.”
Down the block at the United Steelworkers Hall, Marchese told supporters residents have “given me the freedom to retire” after a long, successful run fighting for their rights. “The NDP has lost not one iota of its principles in this campaign.”
Progressive Conservative candidate Roberta Scott finished third.
Heading into Thursday’s vote, the race was seen as too close to call in a riding where a trio of concurrent election campaigns — municipal, provincial and federal — crowded front lawns, and at times confused voters.
Marchese had held the downtown riding since it was formed in 1999. He narrowly defeated Liberal challenger Sarah Thomson in 2011 by 1,100 votes.
A Forum Research poll last week, however, showed Dong as a serious contender, with 37 per cent support, one point ahead of Marchese.
Forum president Lorne Bozinoff told the Star that Dong might “get a boost” from the other red-and-white signs planted throughout the riding, in support of city Councillor Adam Vaughan, the Liberal candidate in the June 30 federal byelection. “I don’t think people knew Vaughan was a Liberal until he decided to run federally,” Bozinoff said.
The vibrant riding encompasses Chinatown, Little Italy, Liberty Village and the Annex. Key issues here include the power of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), Porter Airlines’ proposal to allow jets at Billy Bishop Airport, funding for transit and the rights of condominium residents.
An Italian immigrant who came to Canada as a child, Marchese, 62, grew up in the area and worked as a teacher before entering politics. Dong, 37, has lived in the area since arriving from China as a teenager, and worked for MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East) before the campaign began.
Also a longtime Trinity-Spadina resident, Scott is an advanced-care paramedic for Toronto EMS, according to the profile on her party’s website.
Tim Grant, 63, was the Green Party candidate. The chair of the Harbord Village Residents Association campaigned on shuttering the island airport.