Derek Lee has been down this road before, and it’s a path he dominates every time.
With 30,285 Liberal votes to 9,432 Conservative votes to 4,972 NDP votes, the strong Liberal history of Scarborough Rouge River is neatly summed up in the numbers.
“I’ve been preparing for 20 years for this,” Lee says. “I try and do a good job every day.”
If simply looking at the numbers, the election in this particular riding seems cut and dry. But there are two candidates who do not believe it to be so simple.
“Voters are very smart. If a Liberal member of Parliament has not done anything to improve the situation here in the last 20 years, people aren’t going to buy that,” says rival Conservative candidate Jerry Bance.
Green Party candidate Attila Nagy is equally strong in his opinion.
“I don’t feel intimidated by an individual,” Nagy says. “What I’m intimidated by is the prospect of a future that is brought about by a wrong decision.”
NDP candidate Ryan Sloan believes the electoral system in place can mislead people in their perceptions of voter popularity.
“The current system leads to some situations where, if a candidate is overwhelmingly winning in that riding, people feel that they don’t have a say outside of that contest,” Sloan says. “But I don’t think there is such a thing as a wasted vote.”
“I think it’s important to have the option to vote NDP. [It’s important] that people have the option to vote for positive change.”
But positive change is something all three parties promise to offer Scarborough-Rouge River. Inevitably what it comes down to is the issues they each perceive to be central to this riding.
Lee listed the issues as follows, ordered by importance: “Economy, environment, public health. Afghanistan is lower. Also immigration is a huge issue in this riding.”
Surprisingly, crime was conspicuously absent from his list but high on importance for both Bance and Sloan.
“The two main issues are poverty and gun violence. The young children are being shot and dying and we have to stop it,” Bance says.
The issue of crime remains the same for Bance on a local level.
“Being a resident of Scarborough I don’t want my grandkids to grow up in a crime infested area. I will take the guns out of this area.”
Nagy said that the overall positions of his party are pertinent to the problems of this riding.
“The Green Party is about prevention vs. reaction. If you give people the choice of punishing someone who has committed a crime or the crime not being committed at all, they’ll pick the latter,” Nagy says.
Sloan listed inadequate jobs, the extension of the mission in Afghanistan, crime and student loans as pressing issues to this riding.
“Scarborough has a lot of immigrants with skills that are not being recognized. It’s unfortunate, especially in fields like medicine where five million people don’t have a family doctor.”
As far as chances for election are concerned Sloan seems a little less confident than the other two candidates.
“I have a realistic attitude toward this race,” Sloan says. “I haven’t quit my job and I haven’t started looking for an apartment in Ottawa.”
As for Bance, he says “The Conservatives will be in for sure.”
Lee, though, remains confident.
“As I go into the election I’m very happy with where my party is. I mean, do you want to just talk the talk or walk the walk?”