Losing Toronto-Danforth ‘just the first game,’ Liberal Grant Gordon says

Grant Gordon says he isn’t ready to hang up his political skates just yet.

The first-time Liberal Party candidate lost the March 19 Toronto-Danforth federal byelection to fellow rookie politician Craig Scott, who held onto the riding for the New Democratic Party.

“For me this is just like losing a hockey game,” Gordon said, joking that he’d need approval from his wife and kids before running again. “We played great, held our heads up high and didn’t quite win. But this is just the first game … of a series.

“This was an apprenticeship,” he said at election-night event at Whistler’s Grille on Broadview Avenue. “I’m so privileged to have this experience and everything was very positive throughout the campaign.”

According to Elections Canada, Scott handily won the election with 19,210 votes, or 59.4 per cent of ballots cast. Gordon finished second with 9,215 votes, good for 28.5 per cent. Conservative candidate Andrew Keyes was third with 1,736 votes.

Voter turnout was 43.4 per cent with 32,318 of 74,512 eligible voters casting ballots.

The byelection in Toronto-Danforth was called after NDP Leader Jack Layton died of cancer while in office in August 2011. Layton first won the riding in 2004, defeating longtime Liberal MP Dennis Mills.

Heading into Monday’s byelection, analysts had widely expected an NDP win, citing strong party roots in the riding and Layton’s legacy.

“I thought it was pretty tough running against two candidates.” Gordon said, acknowledging Layton’s popularity. “It’s pretty tough to run against a legacy like that.”

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae (Mohammad Arshad/Toronto Observer)

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae agreed.

“Let’s be honest here. We weren’t just running against Mr. Scott but we were also running against the memory of Mr. Layton.” Rae said.

Gordon, a hockey coach and owner of marketing firm Key Gordon Communications, had campaigned on various issues, including improving childcare, tax reductions for small businesses, securing better pensions and protecting the environment.

Despite his party’s loss, Rae said the Conservative’s distant third-place finish was a vote of non-confidence in the current government in Ottawa.

“People have sent a clear message to [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper in this election by sending another member to the official Opposition in Parliament,” said Rae, who leads the third party in the House of Commons. “Mr. Harper has suffered a huge defeat tonight.”

Though Gordon expressed his disappointment in finishing second to Scott, he said he remains optimistic about his party’s chances in future elections.

“Even though we didn’t win, there is a movement in this riding and it’s a Liberal movement,” he said. “I truly believe that.”