York–Simcoe candidates make final push for votes as federal byelections loom

The federal Conservatives have held York–Simcoe, just north of Toronto, since 2004 and won it by a considerable margin of 12.5 points over the Liberals in 2015.

Federal Conservatives have held the riding since 2004

Conservative candidate Scot Davidson said he's confident York–Simcoe will vote Tory again on Monday. (CBC)

With just one more day until residents in the longtime Tory stronghold of York–Simcoe head to the polls for a byelection, candidates were out making their final pushes to win over voters this weekend.

The byelection in York–Simcoe is one of three scheduled for Monday. Ballots will also be cast in the riding of Burnaby South in B.C. — where federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in a struggle for his political future — as well as in Outremont in Quebec. 

The federal Conservatives have held York–Simcoe, just north of Toronto, since 2004 and won it by a considerable margin of 12.5 points over the Liberals in 2015.

Tory candidate Scot Davidson said Saturday he's confident the affluent riding will stay blue on Monday. 

"We've had a great team of volunteers going door-to-door. And you know, it's been –15 C, –20 C, wind blowing — good old York–Simcoe weather. But that didn't stop us from knocking on over 16,000 doors," he said.

Davidson was joined by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer at an afternoon rally attended by dozens of supporters in Sharon, Ont.

Scheer said that the current SNC-Lavalin controversy embroiling the Lilberals will only sway more voters to Davidson's camp.

Shaun Tanaka, who also ran the Liberals in the riding in 2015, said she believes voters are hungry for a change. (CBC)

The candidate running beneath the Liberal banner in York–Simcoe, however, said voters in the riding aren't focused on mudslinging in Ottawa. 

"To be honest, that's not what we are hearing at the doors. What we're hearing at the doors are issues about families, and the challenges that families face," said Shaun Tanaka, who also ran in the 2015 federal election.

"I think what is going to affect the vote are the issues that matter to people in York–Simcoe," she said, adding that residents in the riding haven't had a representative in the House of Commons for nearly six months. 

The seat has been vacant since Sept. 30, 2018, when former Conservative MPP Peter Van Loan formally retired from politics.

"I think our riding is ready for a change," Tanaka told CBC Toronto. 

Undoubtedly, the Tories are looking for a major win in York–Simcoe with a federal election looming in October. CBC polls analyst Éric Grenier wrote last month that the riding has been 20 points more Conservative than the rest of the country as a whole in the last three elections.

"If the Conservatives are in a position to form a government, York–Simcoe is the kind of riding they should expect to win with at least 55 per cent of the vote," Grenier said in a piece published on Jan. 10. 

Though she admits she's facing a steep uphill battle, NDP candidate Jessa McLean said she hopes to "change how we look at what is possible from our governments and from each other."

NDP candidate Jessa McLean faces a tough challenge in a riding where the New Democrats have struggled to gain traction. She said her campaign has been about changing the conversation around the important issues in York–Simcoe. (CBC)

"Our goal wasn't so much to win over voters, we got into this to change the message," she said while out speaking to voters on Saturday. 

"We're not so much Conservative-minded up here as we are just habitual Conservative voters."

Either way, whoever wins Monday's byelection will have to do it all over again come October. 

With files from Talia Ricci and Lucas Powers


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