Riding Watch: Eglinton-Lawrence becomes battleground for big names
Published Tuesday, October 4, 2011 7:19AM EDT
The Tories have summoned a big-name candidate to compete in Toronto's Eglinton-Lawrence riding, hoping to paint the area blue for the first time in 12 years.
Rocco Rossi hasn't campaigned on the provincial level before but the PC candidate is drawing upon his experience as a Liberal advisor and municipal politico to help him out on election day.
Standing between Rossi and Queen's Park is Mike Colle, the man who turned Eglinton-Lawrence into Liberal bedrock.
Though Colle has been the area's MPP for more than a decade, the political winds in the area may be shifting.
Earlier this year, the federal Tories managed to grab the riding from the Liberals with Joe Oliver, who now holds the government's natural resources portfolio. In previous provincial elections, the Conservatives have been gaining on Colle's Liberal lead.
Rossi's name on the ballot could be an indication that the Ontario Tories are making serious play for Eglinton-Lawrence.
Though Rossi is running under the Progressive Conservative banner, he's worked as an advisor to former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff -- though his official candidate bio makes no mention of this. He also ran in Toronto's 2010 mayoralty race but ultimately withdrew his bid due to poor poll performance.
But Colle and Rossi aren't the only headline-making names running in Eglinton-Lawrence.
Green Party candidate Josh Rachlis starred in a YouTube video entitled "Love song for Elizabeth May" that went viral during the federal election earlier this year.
The award-winning copywriter is also the mind behind Visa's successful "If life were like that…" campaign and has done voice work in some of his own commercials.
Previous polls suggest Rachlis' chances of heading to Queen's Park are slim. In the 2007 provincial election, the Green Party only held about 7 per cent of the vote in Eglinton-Lawrence. (The New Democrats held just over 10 per cent.)
Still, the young comedian has emerged as an effusive candidate who has injected a bit of levity into the campaign.
At a recent all-candidates debate in Eglinton-Lawrence, Rachlis laid out his views as a Green candidate, then revealed that Rossi's wife had told him he was doing well with his campaign.
"If there's any Conservatives here, I don't want any flack because you'll have to deal with her," he said jokingly before handing his microphone off to Rossi.
GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY
Eglinton-Lawrence is nestled between the CN railway and Yonge Street. It's also bordered by Highway 401 to the north and Eglinton Avenue West to the south.
There are about 600 small manufacturing buildings spread out across the riding's west and northwest end. Those small businesses are mixed in with houses and apartments to form a sprawling, mixed-use area.
Immigrants make up about 42 per cent of voters in Eglinton-Lawrence. This mid-town riding has large Jewish, Italian and Portuguese communities.
- Michael Bone (FP)
- Josh Rachlis (GRN)
- Jerry Green (IND)
- Mike Colle (LIB) (incumbent)
- Gerti Dervishi (NDP)
- Rocco Rossi (PC)
- Sujith Kumar Reddy (PSN)