Humber Votes: Vaughan trumps Chow to take Spadina-Fort York

Oct 19, 2015 | Federal Election 2015

By Mahnoor Yawar

Adam Vaughan has won the hearts of downtown Toronto once again in what was arguably the most-watched race in the city, a Liberal/NDP dogfight for the hearts and minds of the progressive left.

Olivia Chow conceded defeat in Spadina-Fort York early after polls closed at 9:30 p.m., with incumbent Adam Vaughan returning to a Liberal-majority Parliament for the downtown riding.

Toronto political titans Chow and Vaughan went head-to-head in the new riding, with polls showing them within a few percentage points of one another at the start of election day.

Chow, the widow of former NDP leader Jack Layton, was a municipal councillor for the area from 1991 to 2005 when she left to run for federal politics to represent the riding then known as Trinity-Spadina.

She was elected to Parliament in 2006, and Vaughan, a former journalist, claimed her council seat after defeating her constituency assistant in the by-election.

In 2014, Chow resigned as an MP to run as mayor of Toronto. In the byelection for her seat in Parliament, Vaughan moved in once again, while Chow lost the mayoral race to John Tory.

Chow was looking to unseat the incumbent Vaughan for her former position, and a critical win for the NDP.

Spadina-Fort York is one of 30 new ridings created through redistribution, encompassing the area bounded by the Distillery District, Harbourfront and Toronto Islands, City Place, and Dundas Street. More than 80,000 people live in the riding, mostly as a result of condo development over the last decade.

Chow has been vocal in her criticism of Vaughan and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on their support for C-51 while trying to sell the high-priced condo-dwelling riding on the NDP’s pledge for immediate plans for affordable housing and a national daycare program.

Meanwhile Vaughan, who is benefiting from a Liberal surge in the polls, has placed emphasis on the party’s plan for transit and affordable housing.

The riding’s Conservative candidate Sabrina Zuniga has fallen to a distant third in the race. The former science teacher did cause some controversy, however, when she recently downplayed the seriousness of oil spills, stating that the ground would absorb them because oil is a natural substance.

On the main issues, however, frontrunners Vaughan and Chow seem to be largely on the same page and are fighting hard to set themselves apart.

with files from Jessica Dempsey, Samantha Singh and Veronica Appia