The Grits suffered a humiliating blow in Willowdale as incumbent Martha Hall Findlay lost her seat to Conservative candidate Chungsen Leung.
Leung eked out a close win with 41.7 percent of the vote compared with Hall Findlay’s 39.9 percent, turning the seat blue for the first time since 1984. The race was tight right until the end, with both candidates holding their speeches off until well after midnight.
The mood at Leung’s event was positive from the start, with cheers and claps audible on the second floor of the Royal Canadian Legion building far before the Conservative candidate was declared victorious. Upon reaching the podium, Leung thanked his campaign team, his wife, and the residents of Willowdale for electing him.
“To the citizens of Willowdale, you have spoken, you wanted change in this riding and I will be that change,” he said. “Through honest hard work, I will ensure that the people of Willowdale have their interests heard and met in Ottawa. Without all of you, this would not have been possible.”
Leung was flanked with so many supporters that he at times had trouble remembering all their names. In contrast, Hall Findlay delivered her concession speech alone, at times choking back tears and joking that she couldn’t speak too long due to only having one roll of toilet paper.
Despite the strong show of emotion, Hall Findlay, in her third election in as many years, appeared fiercely determined to continue on her path as a public servant.
“I didn’t start this whole thing so that after a situation like this I would say ‘oh darn’,” she said. “You are looking at somebody who feels so strongly about this country … I have every intention of continuing to stand up in one way or the other.”
Hall Findlay stated that while she would continue to serve Canadians, she would not confirm whether or not it would be in a political capacity.
Leung, a businessman and community volunteer, has lived in the Willowdale riding for over 23 years. He said some of the issues he wants to take to Parliament Hill include creating jobs for youth, ensuring a good standard of living for residents, and building a sustainable health care system.
“We’ll now have a voice in the federal government,” he pledged. “At the end of the day we still have to serve the people of Willowdale, and that’s what I hope to do.”