Vote-rich GTA ridings eyed by Progressive Conservatives keen to breach traditionally Liberal strongholds continued to lock out Tory candidates Thursday night.
Toronto and its surrounding municipalities were considered crucial battlegrounds for the Tories, who have been unable to take any Toronto ridings since 1999.
Dalton McGuinty's Liberals held 18 of the 22 Toronto seats in the Ontario legislature at dissolution. Another 22 municipalities outside the city make up the 44 GTA electoral districts. By Thursday night, only two GTA ridings previously held by Liberal candidates flipped, but both went to NDP candidates in Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Davenport.
The lack of a Tory blue breakthrough in metro Toronto was, as expected, a major obstacle to winning an Ontario election.
With a number of Liberal ridings just west of Toronto falling recently to a wave of Conservative blue in the last federal election, the Tories were hoping to make similar inroads in what has emerged as one of the tightest provincial elections in decades.
CBC News has confirmed:
- The riding of Don Valley West is evidently not ready for a change, re-electing Liberal incumbent Kathleen Wynne — considered a possible successor to McGuinty. Wynne, a formidable candidate and minister of transportation, trounced first-time PC rival Andrea Mandel-Campbell, a former Business News Network anchor.
- The Peel Region riding of Mississauga South will be reclaimed by incumbent Liberal Charles Sousa, beating PC rival Geoff Janoscik. Sousa's success was expected to hinge on his party's recent announcement that construction would be halted on a controversial gas-fired power plant. Residents were strongly opposed to the development.
- Longtime Liberal cabinet minister Greg Sorbara will return to serve a third term in Vaughan, defeating Tory candidate Tony Genco, a former Liberal who turned Tory following a loss to Tory Julian Fantino in last fall's byelection.
- Liberal MPP and longtime incumbent Mike Colle defeated another familiar face in the city, former mayoral candidate and PC star candidate Rocco Rossi, in Eglinton-Lawrence.
- Linda Jeffrey will take back Brampton-Springdale for the Liberals.
Nevertheless, the Tories have shown strong support before in the 905 suburbs.
In the largely Jewish-populated riding of Thornhill, Peter Shurman was projected to regain his seat for a third term with the Tories, edging out Bernie Farber, a prominent figure in the Jewish community who formerly headed the Canadian Jewish Congress.
The New Democrats also held strong in traditionally NDP ridings, with the party's Rosario Marchese just hanging on to his Trinity-Spadina seat after what was appearing to be a neck-and-neck race with Sarah Thomson of the Liberals. Marchese won by a razor-thin margin.
New Democrat Peter Tabuns held his seat in Toronto-Danforth, fending off Liberal runner-up Marisa Sterling.