Election 2008: Minna holds Beaches-East York for Liberals

In a scene reminiscent of a Team Canada hockey game, Maria Minna smiled from ear to ear as she won re-election in the riding of Beaches-East York.

Minna entered a red-festooned Dawes Road legion hall with about 100 supporters of her campaign chanting her name. She donned a red jacket herself as she celebrated another term on Parliament Hill, and she vowed to continue campaigning for the rights of her constituents.

“I hope to continue to keep fighting for the issues that I care about a great deal such as families, the city of Toronto, the environment – and I think that we need to make it happen in this country,” Minna said.

Minna garnered 40 per cent of the vote in a field of five local candidates. But she also understands the uphill climb that accompanies being part of the opposition in a minority government situation. Yet she said she still intends to bring issues to Parliament for the residents of her riding.

“I think that in this riding the environmental plan worked well. There are a lot of people who really support the environmental plan we put forward, and it will continue to be important,” Minna said.

For NDP challenger Marilyn Churley, it was the second defeat at the hands of Minna – and again, by just a few percentage points. Churley said the fear of a Conservative majority hurt her chances.

“It’s about strategic voting, and Toronto is a hard nut to crack. People are really afraid of Harper, and the Liberals do a very good job of convincing people that the only way to defeat him is to vote Liberal. It’s not true in this riding but a lot of people didn’t get that,” Churley said.

Minna insisted that the Liberal hold over Toronto will continue to ensure that the city has an influence in Ottawa.

“Toronto has very strong voices to work for it, but the fact of the matter is that Toronto voted for the members of Parliament that most reflected its needs,” she said. “We didn’t go around saying that we’re not interested in potholes. We have been interested in working with Toronto and we will continue to be,” Minna said.

City councillor Sandra Bussin said she thinks more federal support is needed for the people of Beaches-East York.

“I’ve had a good working relationship with Maria Minna, but I think that more could happen for the riding than presently is the case,” she said. “I like Maria and she is elected, and that is the will of the people. But I think that the riding would have been better served with ‘the full team,'” Bussin said.