Former journalists win Liberal, NDP nominations in Toronto Centre

Chrystia Freeland was declared the Liberal candidate for Toronto Centre for
an upcoming byelection Sunday.

Toronto, no stranger to newspaper wars, now has a whole new kind of media
war looming in the Toronto Centre byelection — the battle of the former
journalists.

On Sunday afternoon, only blocks away from each other in downtown Toronto,
the Liberals and NDP chose to hand prized candidacies to two women who made
the leap from journalism to politics this summer:

Linda McQuaig, a former Star columnist <
http://www.thestar. com/authors. mcquaig_linda. html> , and Chrystia Freeland,
an international journalist most recently based in New York, promise to
give the residents of Toronto Centre some lively debates, especially on the
issue of income inequality and the decline of the middle class.

Even the Green Party is running an ex-reporter: John Deverell, who reported
on labour, business and politics for the Star for 25 years.

Toronto Centre is seen as a Liberal stronghold and leader Justin Trudeau,
who is billing himself as a champion of the middle class, encouraged
Freeland <
http://www.thestar. com/news/ canada/2013/ 08/06/toronto_ centre_byelectio n_tests_justin_ trudeaus_ open_race_ vow.html>
to run after reading her 2012 book, Plutocrats, which documents the rising,
worldwide gap between rich and poor.

On Monday, Trudeau will be in Toronto to appear at his star candidate’s
side — a sign of how much the party is investing in a byelection that
hasn’t even been called yet. The seat became vacant when former Ontario
premier and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae called it quits <
http://www.thestar. com/news/ canada/2013/ 06/19/bob_ rae_stepping_ down_as_liberal_ mp.html>
in July.

Freeland told Liberals on Sunday that Canada and the Liberal party are at a
“tipping point” in history and the byelection in Toronto Centre is the
beginning of a big shift in the fortunes of both.

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“In Justin Trudeau, the Liberal party has found a leader who can
communicate that vision . . . and we as Liberals are willing and able and
ready to rally,” Freeland said.

McQuaig, whose most recent book is The Trouble With Billionaires, left no
doubt that she had Freeland in her sights when she made her speech to
Toronto New Democrats.

“Freeland presents herself as a progressive, but her writings reveal that
she regards as income inequality as inevitable — as something we really
can’t do anything about,” McQuaig said.

“I strongly disagree with that and in my writings, I’ve demonstrated that
rising inequality is not inevitable. Rather it’s the direct result of the
right-wing economic policies embraced by the Conservatives and the
Liberals.”

Freeland, however, wasn’t ready to reply in kind — at least not yet. She
repeatedly told reporters after her victory that it wasn’t the time to wade
into the fray with McQuaig, so soon after results were known.

She congratulated the future NDP candidate and avoided questions about
where the two diverged on the subject of income inequality.

“Let’s get ready for hard work tomorrow,” Freeland told her fellow
Liberals. About 500 Liberals cast ballots at the Toronto Reference Library
on Sunday afternoon, roughly the same number that turned out for the NDP
contest.

Freeland’s two rivals for the nomination, community organizer Todd Ross and
former bank executive Diana Burke, stood on stage to endorse the result and
Freeland said the Liberals, in a break with their past reputation for
infighting, would stand united in Toronto Centre.

With a byelection possible as soon as October, McQuaig stressed to about
500 people packing an auditorium of the downtown YMCA that Toronto Centre
will be “ground zero” in any efforts by the NDP to defeat the Stephen
Harper Conservatives and win a majority over the Trudeau Liberals.

McQuaig won against two other candidates: one of them also a former
journalist — former TV reporter Jennifer Hollett — as well as transgender
activist Susan Gapka.

The riding is seen as a bellwether for the NDP and the Liberals; with the
New Democrats keenly eyeing a chance to grow their own caucus at the
expense, yet again, of the Liberals.

NDP candidate Susan Wallace came within about 10 percentage points of
taking the riding during the 2011 election, when Rae saw his support drop
by about 18 per cent, to 41 per cent of the vote.

There was a sense of great optimism after Sunday’s first-ballot victory
that McQuaig, a well-known author and intellectual, could push the NDP to
victory in the riding come the next election.

Her central focus, apart from helping the party try to defeat the “fading”
Stephen Harper government, is income disparity across the country which,
she says, is only being worsened by the Harper government.

But, “the stench of corruption hangs over them, making them wonderfully
vulnerable,” McQuaig told the cheering crowd after her nomination win.

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2013

http://www.thestar. com/news/ canada/2013/ 09/15/chrystia_ freeland_ wins_liberal_ nomination_ in_toronto_ centre.html

By: Susan Delacourt, Parliament Hill, Susan Pigg, Business Reporter,
Published on Sun Sep 15 2013

 

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