Jack Layton may be gone but the orange crush voters in Toronto-Danforth have on his party remains strong with NDP candidate Craig Scott easily winning Monday’s byelection.
Scott received close to 60 percent of the total votes cast, beating Liberal Grant Gordonhandily, more than doubling his rival’s vote total.
“It looks like the orange crush is here to stay,” Scott told a raucous audience at The Opera House on Queen Street East. “It’s not going anywhere.”
Scott, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the voters of Toronto-Danforth have sent a message to Ottawa that will be heard across Canada.
“The people of Toronto Danforth have put their trust in one of the soundest official Oppositions in Canadian history,” said Scott. “An Opposition that unites, an Opposition that runs on positive energy, an Opposition that stands on principle.
“They said yes to a party that is ready to take on Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.”
Throughout the night, the memory of the riding’s former MP permeated the atmosphere. Layton’s widow, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, stood with Scott on stage during the celebration, and the newly elected MP echoed his predecessor’s famous farewell letter to Canadians by reminding the crowd of Layton’s words.
“A good friend of ours would say that we’ve chosen love, we’ve chosen hope, and we’ve chosen optimism.”
Layton wasn’t far from the mind of the Liberal candidate either.
Gordon called his byelection run an overwhelmingly positive experience, but said he felt he was not only running against Scott, but also against Layton’s memory.
“Its pretty tough to run against a legacy like that,” Gordon told reporters after conceding defeat. “I guess there was a huge amount of nostalgia. I thought it was dissipating and I thought people were really, really looking toward the future and wondering who was going to help them the most in the riding.”
With the race dominated by the NDP and the Liberals, Conservative candidate Andrew Keyes came a very distant third polling just over five percent, finishing just ahead of Green candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, who came in fourth with just under five percent of the vote.
While Scott was clearly enjoying his victory, he did emphasize there was still much work to be done.
“Let’s indeed celebrate this victory tonight but tomorrow we have to get right back to work because this campaign is not yet finished,” he said. “It’s just one step in a longer campaign to build a better Canada.”
– With files from Tristan Carter and Gordon Cameron