Federal byelection called in Toronto-St. Paul’s riding for June 24

Toronto-St. Paul's residents will head to the polls on the June 24. Michelle Mackey is speaking with political analysts on their predictions and why the Liberal stronghold will be challenged.

By John Marchesan and Michelle Mackey

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a byelection for the federal riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s on June 24.

The byelection is needed after former cabinet minister Carolyn Bennett announced last year that she would not run for re-election after more than 26 years representing the riding. She served under three prime ministers and spent a decade in cabinet, more than half that as the Crown-Indigenous relations minister between 2015 and 2021. Bennett was shuffled out of cabinet this past summer following her announcement that she would not seek re-election and was named Canada’s next ambassador to Denmark in January.

Longtime Liberal staffer Leslie Church, who most recently served as chief of staff to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, has been nominated to run for the party in Bennett’s riding.

The Conservative Party of Canada has nominated financial professional Don Stewart, while Amrit Parhar, who works as a director at a non-profit, will run for the NDP.

Toronto-St. Paul’s has become a safe Liberal seat since Bennett first ran there, winning with more than half the vote in all but two of the nine elections she ran contested.

Political analysts say they expect the results of this byelection to be a bellwether of the Liberals’ fortune in the next general election.

“We know that Canadians are not happy with the direction of the country. They’re not happy with the Liberal government,” said Daryl Bricker with Ipsos Public Affairs.

He said the issues Canadians care most about are pertinent in this riding.

“Mostly around the issues of cost of living and housing are no more pronounced than they are in a riding like St. Paul’s, where it’s quite a mix of people who are quite affluent and people who are really struggling to get by and finding acceptable rental accommodations,” Bricker said.

Greg Lyle with Innovative Research Group said Church has her work cut out to continue the 26-year Liberal legacy in this riding.

“They basically need to motivate their base vote, and the obvious way to do that is to attack the Tories. So to get people to perceive the Tories as scary, as dangerous, They’ll be pulling in volunteers from all across Toronto to support them in this. They’ll have started probably with a much better list than the Conservatives have, and that all bodes well for them. But if I was betting, I would bet Conservative today.”

Advance voting in the riding will take place Friday, June 14 through Monday, June 17.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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