Ontario Election 2018: 10 ridings to watch in the 905

NDP banking on Jagmeet Singh effect to make inroads in Brampton, while it's been a schmozzle for the PCs trying to figure out who to field in crucial multi-ethnic battleground outside Toronto


1. Ajax

Who’s running 

Joe Dickson (Liberal), Rod Phillips (PC), Paul Taalman(Trillium), Marsha Haynes (Libertarian)

The vote last time (2014)

(Formerly Ajax-Pickering) Liberal – 51 per cent, PC – 29 per cent, NDP – 16 per cent, Green – 3 per cent


Incumbent Joe Dickson, a former Catholic school board trustee, has held this Liberal seat since 2007 and won with more than 50 per cent of the vote in 2014 against his closest PC challenger. This time he’s up against Rod Phillips, the former Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation CEO, Postmedia exec and Paul Godfrey sidekick recruited as a star candidate for the PCs by Patrick Brown. How Phillips’s decidedly corporate Toronto air plays here against Dickson’s small-town appeal will be interesting to watch.

2. Brampton Centre

Who’s running 

Safdar Hussain (Liberal), Harjit Jaswal (PC), Sara Singh (NDP), William Oprel (Trillium), Andrew Hosie (Libertarian)

The vote last time 

This riding is being contested for the first time provincially.


It’s been a schmozzle for the PCs trying to figure out who to field in this newly created, multi-ethnic riding. Toronto council’s clown prince Giorgio Mammoliti announced with much fanfare his intentions to run for the PCs here, after local realtor Harjit Jaswal, who came third to now federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the 2014 Bramalea-Gore-Malton provincial race, looked like the fave to run for the PCs. Mammoliti pulled out two weeks later, citing “overwhelming” response from his constituents to stay at City Hall. Uh huh. Smells more likely PC leader Doug Ford planned to hand the nomination to his good buddy Giorgio, but then thought better of it when he realized how many voters from the Sikh community he’d be alienating in what should be a winnable riding for the PCs. 


3. Brampton East

Who’s running 

Parminder Singh (Liberal), Simmer Sandhu (PC), Gurratan Singh (NDP), Daniele Cerasoli (Libertarian)

The vote last time (2014)


(Formerly Brampton-Springdale) Liberal – 40 per cent, NDP – 32 per cent, PC – 24 per cent, Green – 3 per cent

Gurratan Singh, the younger brother of federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, has been nominated to run for the provincial NDP in this new riding. The Liberals are opting for some star power of their own here, fielding Parminder Singh, a medical doctor better known as the founding host of CBC’s former Hockey Night In Canada in Punjabi broadcast.

4. Brampton North

Who’s running 

Harinder Malhi (Liberal), Gregory Argue (Libertarian), Pauline Thornham (Green), Mackinder Samrai (NOTA)

The vote last time (2014)

(Formerly Brampton-Springdale) Liberal – 40 per cent, NDP – 32 per cent, PC – 24 per cent, Green – 3 per cent 


Re-created from parts of the former Bramalea-Gore-Malton, Brampton-Springdale and Brampton West ridings, this electoral district was held by former Liberal cabinet minister Linda Jeffrey before she vacated the seat to run for mayor of Brampton. Harinder Malhi moves over from his former Brampton-Springdale riding to contest the seat this time. Of particular note here is Jass Johal, the Brampton paralegal acclaimed to run here for the PCs in 2017, but who has since been disqualified after his interest in an ownership stake in a restaurant partly owned by former PC leader Patrick Brown surfaced during the latter’s sexual misconduct travails. 

5. King-Vaughan

Who’s running 

Marilyn Iafrate (Liberal), Stephen Lecce (PC), Yan Simkin (Libertarian), Roman Evtukh (Trillium)

The vote last time 

This riding is being contested for the first time provincially.


The PCs are targeting this new riding with Stephen Lecce, part of the next gen of young Con staffers who served under Stephen Harper in Ottawa. Lecce won the PC nomination with 90 per cent of the vote, but the result was marred by controversy when police had to be called after Konstantin Toubis, a former Conservative federal candidate in the riding, disrupted the proceedings. Toubis had been disqualified by the PCs from the running two days earlier. The Liberals are countering with Vaughan councillor Marilyn Iafrate, a former member of the Ministry of Education Parents’ Advisory Board. The NDP have yet to nominate a candidate.

6. Markham-Stouffville 

Who’s running 

Helena Jaczek (Liberal), Paul Calandra (PC), Jose Etcheverry (Green), Paul Balfour (Libertarian)

The vote last time (2014)

(Oak Ridges-Markham) Liberal – 46 per cent, PC – 37 per cent, NDP – 12 per cent, Green – 3.4 per cent, Libertarian – 1.7 per cent, Trillium – 0.29 per cent


Liberal Helena Jaczek, Wynne’s newly appointed Minister of Health and Long-term Care, moves over from her former Oak Ridges-Markham backyard to take on PC candidate Paul Calandra, a former HarperCon with a dodgy political past who got bounced from this seat federally in 2015 by Liberal Jane Philpott. Calandra is notorious for his antics in the House, including answering different questions than those posed to him, which journalists have taken to describing as “The Full Calandra.” 

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Tanya Granic Allen

7. Mississauga Centre

Who’s running 

Bobbie Daid (Liberal), Tanya Granic Allen (PC), Farouk Giga (Libertarian)

The vote last time

This riding is being contested for the first time provincially.

The PCs have overturned the nomination of Filipino-Canadian lawyer Angely Pacis to clear the way for anti-sex-ed crusader Tanya Granic Allen, who put Doug Ford over the top in the PC leadership race to run in this new riding. It’s one of three nominations the PCs under Ford have overturned. Granic Allen will no doubt have the help of the PC party machine given her proximity to Ford. But it’ll be no cakewalk given the fact that the riding, albeit under a different configuration, has been held by the Liberals since 2003. Granic Allen’s lack of political experience has already shown itself in her mishandling of a number of recent controversies, including questions posed to her about anti-Muslim remarks she’s posted online in the past. Some political observers have rightly noted that other PC candidates have been disqualified for less. The Libs are countering with local business owner Bobbie Daid, who ran for the Libs and lost in 2014 in Dufferin-Caledon.

8. Mississauga-Lakeshore

Who’s running 

Charles Sousa (Liberal), Rudy Cuzzetto (PC), Boris Rosolak (NDP), Jay Ward (Libertarian), Andrew Weber (NOTA),

The vote last time (2014)

(Mississauga South) Liberal – 51 per cent, PC – 33 per cent, NDP – 11 per cent, Green – 3 per cent


This riding, which will be contested for the first time in 2018, takes in parts of Mississauga Erindale and Mississauga South, the latter of which was won by Liberal Finance minister Charles Sousa with 50 per cent of the vote against his nearest PC rival in 2014. Rudy Cuzzetto, the PC candidate, is a former Ford Motors exec and the uncle of Genevieve Gualtieri, former PC leader Patrick Brown’s current partner. The riding is one of several mired in controversy over PC party nominations, in particular the membership recruitment efforts of Brown ally Snover Dhillon in the Indo-Canadian community.

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Christine Elliott

9. Newmarket-Aurora

Who’s running 

Chris Ballard (Liberal), Christine Elliott (PC), Kyle Orvis (Libertarian), Bob Yaciuk (Trillium), Melissa Williams (NDP)

The vote last time (2014)

Liberal – 44 per cent, PC – 37 per cent, NDP – 11 per cent, Green – 4 per cent


After much hedging, Christine Elliott, who finished second to Ford in the leadership contest, has found a relatively safe riding to run in for the PCs, which was held by Frank Klees (a Ford leadership supporter) for a decade before Klees retired from politics and the Libs took it in 2014. But to clear the way for Elliott, the PCs had to overturn the nomination of Charity McGrath, citing voting irregularities. McGrath has since publicly endorsed Elliott. Incumbent Chris Ballard, Wynne’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, has also served as Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty-Reduction Strategy.

10. Thornhill

Who’s running 

Gila Martow (PC), Sabi Ahsan (Liberal), Ezra Tanen (NDP), Mike Holmes (Libertarian), Vladimir Kanevski (Trillium), Caryn Bergmann (Green), 

The vote last time (2014)

PC – 43.99 per cent, Liberal – 43.78 per cent, NDP – 8 per cent, Green – 2.47 per cent, Libertarian – 1.15 per cent


PC incumbent Gila Martow won in a squeaker by a little more than 100 votes in a rematch against Liberal Sandra Yeung Racco in 2014, whom Martow also outdistanced in a by-election earlier that year. That was after the former PC incumbent, Peter Shurman, was forced to resign over allegations he improperly received a $20,000 housing allowance to travel back and forth to his home in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Libs only this week nominated Sabi Ahsan, chair of the board at Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp., to run in this predominantly Jewish riding that is held federally by the Cons’ Peter Kent. The NDP recently nominated Ezra Tanen

Go to nowtoronto.com/election2018 for profiles of all the 905 races. 

With files from Manar Hossain and Rhianna Jackson-Kelso.

news@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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