Best candidate takes down Scarborough-Guildwood

What could have been a close race between the Conservatives and the Liberals played out as a landslide in the Scarborough-Guildwood area on election night.

Margarett Best and the Liberals easily held the riding with around 43 per cent of the votes. Gary Grant of the Progressive Conservatives had around 29 per cent and Neethan Shan of the New Democrats polled around 23 per cent.

“I want to champion the causes of [the] diversity community of Scarborough-Guildwood,” said Best, after arriving at Millie’s Tavern, arm-in-arm with Mary-Anne Chambers to a loud throng of supporters.

This riding was one political analysts predicted could go either way after Chambers retired due to health concerns.

During the last provincial election in 2003, Chambers swept to power with an impressive 51.5 per cent of the votes, easily outdistancing PC incumbent Steve Gilchrist’s 33.84 per cent.

Funding for faith-based schools was a big issue for Best as she said many of the people she spoke with in the riding were against John Tory’s initiative.

“I look forward to an Ontario where all Ontarians can attend school together, have equal access to universal health care, they can live in safer communities and can have a greener Ontario,” Best said in her victory speech to supporters.

Best will “work tirelessly”

Mark Frimpong, president of the local Liberal riding association, said the people of Scarborough-Guildwood would have a candidate who would work tirelessly for their needs down at Queen’s Park.

“She’ll work hard, listening the community and doing the best for the community,” Frimpong said.

Despite negative results, PC candidate Gary Grant and his supporters remained positive as the results of the election were announced for Scarborough-Guildwood.

“We fought a good hard fight, we had a good campaign, we were in it for the right reasons with the right people,” Grant said. “Unfortunately, we got caught up in a tide that was going against the Progressive Conservatives again this year.”

Grant said he considered crime one of the most salient issues in his constituency, and while the issue of faith-based school funding was a dominant component of the electoral race, he considered it “one of many issues” being faced in the province.

Grant defiant

The first-time candidate was unclear about whether he would return to politics in the next election.

“I may or may not seek elected office again but I can guarantee you one thing — you haven’t seen the last of Gary Grant in public service,” he said.

The NDP candidate Shan fared far better than his predecessor Gary Dale. In this year’s election the NDP saw a 10 per cent rise in voter support from 2003.

“I would not think that this has weakened us,” said a near-jubilant Shan. “This has definitely given us more strength and mandate in our community to keep fighting for the real issues of working families.”

Shan sat hunched over a laptop in his campaign rally at east Scarborough’s Nu Royal Banquet Hall, flanked by a handful of his supporters, all eyes glued to the screen for the latest election updates.

“I think the NDP had to break through this smokescreen of faith-based funding to deal with real issues,” Shan said. “It was really difficult for our party to get the attention of the community as well as the media to talk about real issues such as the growing disconnect between the rich and the poor and so on.”