Election 2008: Gentili sees ray of hope in Rae’s stronghold

As the battle for Toronto Centre drew to a close, Liberal incumbent Bob Rae won re-election handily with 53 per cent of the vote, defeating chief opponent David Gentili of the Conservatives.

Gentili, who garnered 18 per cent of the vote, arrived at Rae’s victory party in person to concede defeat. However, as he shook Rae’s hand his smile seemed to declare that even though he had lost the battle for the riding, his party won the war as it prepares to form another minority Conservative government.

Despite his much weaker showing of 6,900 votes to Rae’s 20,146, Gentili said he still feels a sense of accomplishment.

“I came into this (election) a little bit late, but I’m actually quite pleased with the result,” he said. “As you know we came in fourth in the byelection and (now) we have a solid second-place showing. Hopefully, next time we’ll give (Rae) a run for his money (but) I probably won’t be the candidate next time.”

While Rae was pleased with his win, he seemed bitter about his party’s fortunes as the Liberal Party failed to win enough seats to form a government. He believes the election was a waste of taxpayers’ money and criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for calling it.

“Mr. Harper would not have called this election unless he thought he could win a majority,” he said. “I feel that (this election was a waste) because he sought a majority mandate and didn’t get it.”

The pundits will be watching Rae closely as yet another Liberal leadership race could begin if the party loses enough confidence in Stephane Dion to force him to step down.

Despite his second-place showing in the byelection last March, El-Farouk Khaki of the NDP came in third in Toronto Centre with 5,786 votes, followed by Ellen Michelson of the Green Party with 4,700 votes.