Conservatives swipe historical stronghold from Trudeau’s Liberals

The Conservatives have landed a powerful blow in their fight to win the next Canadian election, snatching a historical Toronto stronghold from the governing Liberal Party.

The Conservative candidate, Don Stewart, won the byelection in Toronto-St. Paul’s on Monday night with 42.1 per cent of the vote, taking the seat away from the Liberals for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

In a social media post, Stewart, a financial professional, said he was “humbled” to have been elected.

“I will never take it for granted,” he said. “I promise to be your voice on Parliament Hill.”

He beat Liberal candidate Leslie Church, who got 40.5 per cent of the vote and NDP’s Amrit Parhar, who received 10.9 per cent. Christian Cullis ran for the Greens, getting 2.9 per cent.

Church, a long-time Liberal staffer, said she plans to run as a candidate in the next elections and vowed her party would “re-earn” the trust of voters.

“They want a government that fulfils its promise to be there for them,” she said in a social media post.The byelection count was complicated by a huge number of candidates registering to run for the seat, many of whom signed up in protest. A total of 84 candidates registered in Toronto-St. Paul’s, partly as a push from the Longest Ballot Committee to campaign for electoral reform.

Before Monday, the riding had been held by the Liberals for 10 successive elections. Former MP Carolyn Bennett — whose appointment as ambassador to Denmark triggered the byelection — had been the local representative for over 25 years.

Losing the historic stronghold is likely to pile pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre demanded the prime minister call a snap election after what he described as a “shocking upset” on social media Tuesday morning.

“Here is the verdict: Trudeau can’t go on like this. He must call a carbon tax election now,” Poilievre said on X.

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