Election 2008: Etobicoke North still runs Liberal red

When long-time Liberal incumbent Roy Cullen decided not to run for Parliament again, two rookie politicians saw a chance to make their mark on the community they call home.

And while Conservative candidate Bob Saroya may not have won a seat in the House of Commons, he believes his campaign has made significant inroads in the Liberal stronghold of Etobicoke North.

“Our numbers are up … for a rookie guy that’s not bad at all,” he said. “This is a Liberal riding. We are making a difference and by the next time we will make a complete difference.”

With all the polls in, Saroya had just over 30 per cent of the riding’s votes, up from the 22 per cent his predecessor received in the previous election. The riding’s new MP, Liberal Kirsty Duncan, earned 48 per cent of the vote, slipping almost 11 percentage points from her predecessor Roy Cullen.

Cullen held Etobicoke North for the Liberals for 12 years. His decision not to run in this election led Liberal leader Stephane Dion to hand-pick Duncan as Cullen’s successor. This was a nod she was “honoured” to accept, she said.

She credited the Liberal party’s strong stance on immigration, education and her focus on the needs of immigrant families as reasons for her success under the Liberal banner in the ethnically diverse riding.

“Look around this room. Every community in Etobicoke North is represented here tonight,” she told her supporters at her campaign headquarters.

“The Liberals have wonderful policies with immigration,” she said. “We’re going to get rid of Bill C-50, that ugly piece of legislation that gave one person the right to decide who can or cannot come into this country.”

Duncan, who is leaving a post as an associate  professor of health studies at the University of Toronto to take her seat in the House, said the first thing she will do is put all her effort into learning her new job as well as she can to live up to her constituents’ expectations.

“It’s such an honour to follow in (Roy Cullen’s) footsteps and, believe me, I know they’re large footsteps I follow in,” she said.

Saroya said he will continue to work hard within his community and he plans to run again in the next election, when he hopes to see an even greater improvement.

“We are on the right track,” he said. “Change is always tough…by the next election we will make up the difference.”