The Toronto-Danforth federal riding will go to the polls on March 19, 2012 in a by-election to replace the late NDP leader Jack Layton. The electoral district in the east-end of downtown Toronto is home to large Greek, Chinese, Muslim and South Asian communities, and is one of several left-of-centre ridings in Toronto.
The riding, formerly known as Broadview-Greenwood, is an interesting one. Bob Rae held the riding for the NDP in the late 1970s to early 1980s when he was a member of the federal Dippers—and before leaving to become leader of the provincial NDP.
Rae was replaced by Lynn McDonald, a well-known opponent of smoking who defeated former Toronto Sun editor Peter Worthington (Independent) in a by-election and kept the seat for the NDP.
McDonald lost the seat to Liberal party insider Dennis Mills, grandson of the founder of the iconic Chair-man Mills company and an auto-parts executive.
In 1996, Mills briefly sat as an “Independent Liberal,” while protesting the Jean Chrétien government’s failure to abolish the Goods and Service Tax, a promise the Grits had made in the 1993 campaign.
Jack Layton won the seat in the 2004 election. He had become leader of the federal NDP in January 2003, but didn’t seek election to the House of Commons until the 2004 federal election.
Advertising executive Grant Gordon (Liberal) and human rights law professor Craig Scott (NDP) are the candidates with the best chance to go to Ottawa to represent the riding. Andrew Keyes, a communications consultant, is running for the Conservatives, but he has to be considered a longshot.
I’ll be interested to see whether Bob Rae can take advantage of the virtually leaderless NDP to snatch his old riding back for his Grits. This would be a nasty welcome for any permanent leader the Dippers select on March 24.