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Two City Councillors Vie for Victory in Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s By-election

On August 1, the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore will gain a new Member of Provincial Parliament, and Toronto will probably lose a councillor.

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Doug Holyday and Tim Hudak. Photo from Holyday’s Facebook page.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore is arguably the most interesting of the five provincial by-elections happening on August 1, with current city councillor Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) running for the Liberals and fellow councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) flying the blue flag for Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives.

Milczyn and Holyday have much in common. Apart from the fact that each already represents Etobicoke at the municipal level (though Holyday’s ward is outside the boundaries of Etobicoke-Lakeshore), both are members of Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee, and both are considered right-wing councillors and allies of the mayor. Both are well-versed in the culture of the inner suburbs, a short SUV ride but a long philosophical trek from the latte-drenched Bixi-bikers of the core.

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Peter Milczyn and Charles Sousa. Photo from Milczyn’s Facebook page.

For the purposes of this election, however, there are key differences. At first glance, Milczyn looks to have the edge. Etobicoke-Lakeshore has—along with most other Toronto ridings—been relatively impervious to Tory encroachment in recent years. Liberal MPP Laurel Broten, whose recent resignation triggered the byelection, held the seat for a decade, winning a convincing 51 per cent of the vote back in 2010.

Milczyn is also a known quantity in the area, having first been elected to council in 2000 (he also served on Etobicoke city council for three years prior to amalgamation). And a recent poll gives him a slight 45 to 39 per cent edge over Holyday.

But the Grits chose such a strong candidate for a reason. This time around, Etobicoke-Lakeshore is no Liberal safe zone, where the party can acclaim some grinning mediocrity as a reward for years of tedious door-knocking. Nope, Etobicoke-Lakeshore is shaping up to be a genuine contest.

Doug Holyday has some key things going for him. As Deputy Mayor, he boasts a higher public profile than Milczyn’s. He’s also close to the Fords. If Mayor Rob Ford is the tantrum-prone id, and Doug Ford the ego trying to beat and bulldoze Rob’s whims into reality, Holyday may be the superego, working to civilize the impulses of the others and apply a veneer of critical thought to the process. Both brothers came out to support Holyday’s campaign earlier this week, a meaningful advantage in a part of the city where the mayor and his family remain popular.

The Etobicoke electorate likes Holyday, too. In 2010, he took his ward with a handy 71 per cent of the vote, while Milczyn barely squeaked into his seat, beating challenger Justin Di Ciano by just 109 votes.

Milczyn must also deal with the diminished credibility of the Ontario Liberals, their reputation tarnished by scandal and financial mismanagement, from eHealth, to Ornge, to the expensive and politically opportunistic cancellations of GTA power plants. And while former Premier Dalton McGuinty committed political seppuku last fall, it’s uncertain whether voters will be inclined to give his successor Kathleen Wynne the benefit of the doubt.

Will Etobicoke-Lakeshore stay red, or will the PCs get a much-coveted toehold in the GTA? With less than three weeks until the vote, victory may come down to which party organization is more successful at dragging their summer-addled supporters away from cottages and barbecues to mark an X on a ballot.


  • Fran

    THERE ARE OTHER CANDIDATES! I love how none of the media outlets acknowledge that there are other choices besides these two.

  • wklis

    Why… are… city… elections… so… long…?

  • DynamicUno

    It’s pretty disappointing for the literary profession when you see a critical error in what is literally the first word of an article:

    “Two City Councillors Vie for Victory in Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s By-election”

    The number you were looking for there is six. You managed to completely ignore even the NDP, who you may have heard of at some point over the last few years while they were winning record numbers of votes and securing the position of Official Opposition on the federal level.

    I don’t mean to be a jerk about this, but imagine it this way:

    “Two candidates vie for title of most credible news source in Toronto – The Grid and Metro offer strong cases for being the winner of the ‘most credible news source’ prize.”

    And then Torontoist is just never mentioned, as though it doesn’t exist or have any news value whatsoever.

    Doesn’t feel great, does it?

    • Shane Saiyan

      Hear hear! This isn’t a two party system, Torontoist.

    • rich1299

      I agree they should’ve mentioned the rest of the candidates but it is accurate to say that “Two City Councillors Vie for Victory in Etobicoke-Lakeshore’s By-election” since at least as far as I know they are the only two city councillors running in this riding. The NDP, Greens, and other candidates have traditionally fared poorly in this riding so it is effectively a contest between these two candidates for the Wynne Libs and Hudak PCs.

      Living in this riding it seems to me that the Milczyn campaign is better organized having more signs out and have been doing more phone canvassing than any other party. It will probably come down to who can get more of their supporters out to vote and so far it seems the Milczyn campaign will pull that off. Though I usually only travel through the more urban working class and retail oriented southern part of the riding than the more suburban executive and wealthier northern part of the riding so its hard to say based on signs alone in one half the riding.

  • huanguan