Meet a Toronto-Danforth Candidate: Grant Gordon
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Meet a Toronto-Danforth Candidate: Grant Gordon

The Toronto-Danforth by-election to replace Jack Layton happens on March 19. Here, Torontoist aims to tell you who’s running, and why.

When the Saturday dim sum crowd at Pearl Court restaurant in East Chinatown sat down for lunch, they probably didn’t expect Liberal leader Bob Rae to interrupt their meal. But he did.

Rae was out campaigning alongside Grant Gordon, the Liberal candidate in the upcoming Toronto-Danforth by-election. Along with MP Carolyn Bennet, the group went from business to business, shaking hands, handing out flyers, and trying to make inroads for the Liberals in late NDP leader Jack Layton’s former riding.

Bennett and Rae are just two on a long list of Liberal luminaries that have been popping up in the riding during Gordon’s by-election campaign. Former party leader Stephan Dion has been out canvassing, and earlier this week Justin Trudeau lent his support.

A by-election is a big deal for any party, but this one feels like an especially big deal for the Liberals, who lost 43 seats in the last election and finshed in third place for the first time in the history of confederation. But Gordon, a political rookie who had no official involvement with politics or the Liberal party before this by-election, says he’s not feeling any pressure.

“I’ll tell you why,” says Gordon in a phone interview. “I am knocking on doors and people who own small busnesses are telling me…they may go out of business. I’m meeting single parents who can’t get their kids into day care. That is pressure. So when I put [the campaign] in that context, I have no pressure.”

And he adds that the support he’s getting from high places isn’t just about rallying to the Liberal cause, it’s about what he has to offer as a candidate. “[MPs and MPPs] are coming out because they really believe I can add value and they like how I’m expressing my ideas,” says Gordon.

Bob Rae and Grant Gordon shake hands in East Chinatown.

Gordon should know a thing or two about how to express his ideas, since he’s made a career in the advertising and marketing industry. Gordon says he’s already been advocating things like cleaner air, cleaner food, and better education through the marketing firm he started, Key Gordon Communications Inc.—but now he’s anxious to do more by extending his advocacy into the public sector.

His three sons are just as eager. When Gordon sat down with his family to talk about the possibility of running for federal office, it was his kids that finally convinced him he had to do it, encouraging their dad to “run against Stephen Harper.” Says Gordon, “I grew up in the generation worried about nuclear war, and [my eight-year-old] is growing up in the generation that’s afraid of global warming.”

A resident in the riding for 20 years, Gordon says air quality is one the of the biggest issues facing the area, with its proxmitity to the Don Valley Parkway. Telling us “the City needs a partner in Ottawa,” Gordon says he’d like to see the federal government play a larger role in public transit planning, which he thinks would go a long way to solving the air-quality problems in Toronto-Danforth.

When asked how he keeps up his energy in light of polls that place NDP candidate Craig Scott in the lead, Gordon says he prefers to gauge his chances by what he’s hearing when he goes out canvassing. He reports that doors are opening wider and wider for him as the momentum around his campaign grows.

“I know Jack won this riding handily in the last election. But I’m encouraged because people keep telling me, ‘I voted for Jack, not the NDP, so earn my vote.'”

See also:

Meet a Candidate: Craig Scott (NDP)
Meet a Candidate: Andrew Keyes (Conservative)