No winner expected at Davenport in Toronto until Wednesday

Voters in Toronto’s Davenport probably won’t know until Wednesday who will represent them in Parliament.

On Tuesday night, the Elections Canada website showed liberal incumbent Julie Dzerowicz with a 347-vote lead over NDP rival Alejandra Bravo, with 10 of 182 polls yet to be reported.

Representatives for both candidates told the Star that election officials have told them not to wait for the final results until special ballots, including votes cast locally, are counted on Wednesday.

They said more than 1,000 special ballots were requested, but they don’t have an official tally of how many there are to count.

“We always knew this would be a very close election,” Bravo told the Star Monday night as election results for the rest of the country were reported, re-electing Liberal leader Justin Trudeau with a minority government.

So for now, the massive effort by the New Democrats to switch Davenport from liberal red to the NDP remains up in the air.

If Bravo’s campaign falls short in what many observers saw as the NDP’s best hope for breaking the liberals’ Toronto stronghold, it won’t be for lack of trying.

The popular multilingual social activist campaigned tough, even with party leader Jagmeet Singh at her side, arguing that the interests of residents west of the city center are best reflected in a party on the political left.

In his first run in federal office, Bravo told working-class motorcycling and gentrified neighborhood voters that only his party would levy a tax on Canada’s “ultra-rich.”

She said liberals, including Dzerowicz, don’t have the courage to impose a special wealth tax on top-earners and corporations to raise billions of dollars for housing and social programs.

“Everything we have has been won by people who are fighting,” Bravo, a longtime Davenport resident, told Star’s Richard Warnica as he campaigned on other issues, including climate change and making life more affordable for residents. Toronto, especially housing.

Singh, while launching scathing attacks on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, called Bravo “an incredible candidate” during a campaign stoppage last week.

The new Democrats invested resources in the parade, which polls throughout the election described as a draw that could go to either party.

But Dzerowicz and his liberals, who held the seat for most of the past six decades, were unwilling to hand over Davenport without a counteroffensive.

Trudeau stood alongside Dzerowicz, the Davenport MP since 2015, in early September, calling her “an extraordinary voice for all of you and she continues to be incredibly ambitious not just for this community but for the country.”

Dzerowicz told Warnica: “I want to be re-elected because I want to shape the world we want to live in.

“I really want to start introducing new programs, new ways to support Canadians, and really get us thinking about: What is the new economic model … that will lead us to a more sustainable and prosperous Canada?”

The situation shifted between liberals and conservatives until 1962, when the liberals appeared to block him, winning 16 consecutive elections until new Democrat Andrew Cash took him in 2011 amid a national liberal electoral collapse.

Cash, a popular singer-songwriter considered one of the top figures in the NDP, was swept away by Dzerowicz in 2015 and lost to her again by a small margin in 2019.

When he refused to try again, Bravo got the go-ahead to try and return Davenport to the fold of the NDP. The director of leadership and training at the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think tank, Bravo tried unsuccessfully to win the local city council seat three times between 2003 and 2014.

Dzerowicz held senior positions in banking and biotechnology for more than two decades and co-founded an environmental group in 2010, before gaining the position.

Davenport extends to Eglinton Avenue to the north, Ossington Avenue to the east, and the GO transit line to the south and west. At the time of the 2016 census, the riding had more than 108,000 people and was growing faster than the Toronto average.

David Rider is the head of Star’s City Council office and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider


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