Election 2008: St. Paul’s remains a Liberal bastion

Despite her success in Tuesday’s election, newly re-elected Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett still has plenty of cause for concern.

The representative for Toronto’s St. Paul’s riding won by a comfortable margin – more than 12,000 votes – but a rash of recent vandalism aimed at her supporters has left her anxious. Even so, she believes the attacks may not have had their intended effect.

“In some ways it galvanized people. They refused to be intimidated,” she said. “I am worried that the partisan nature of the Conservative party…has created a climate of hatred and intolerance that allows people to (disregard) a different opinion. It’s so disappointing to see this kind of intolerance.”

Less than two weeks ago, residents of St. Paul’s reported 32 separate acts of vandalism. Some had their cars’ brake lines cut or their houses spray-painted. In each case, the resident had a Liberal sign on his or her front lawn.

Heather Jewell, who represented the Conservative party in the riding, believes the outcome of this election will ease some tension, at least within Parliament.

“The dialogue is more normalized now and hopefully we’ll get more and more towards an exchange of ideas,” she said. “Most of us have the same hopes and dreams for Canada. We just have different ideas on how to get there.”

Jewell also feels that, even though her party still won’t form a majority government, this was the right time to call an election.

“Absolutely, (an election) was necessary,” she said. “Parliament had really become dysfunctional. We had a lot of co-operation for about the first two years and then…we lost the confidence of the house. It was time to get another mandate from the Canadian people.”

Bennett believes that, given the discord in Parliament and the recent economic crisis, her party’s campaign should have yielded better results.

“I’m disappointed,” she said. “I’ve been in a number of ridings over this election and it felt way better on the ground than the results tonight (show).”

Despite not being voted into a seat, Jewell was pleased that her party improved on its results from the 2006 election.

“We made some important gains,” she said. “We’re starting to break the fortress that is the Liberal fortress of Toronto and we’re letting some light in.”