Rookie NDP candidate Jonah Schein took Toronto's Davenport riding Thursday night, reversing three decades of Liberal victories and placing the neighbourhood under two levels of New Democrat leadership for the first time in history.
By winning Davenport's provincial seat, Schein joined NDP MP Andrew Cash, who won the riding's federal equivalent in May by ousting long-time Liberal incumbent Mario Silva.
Schein and Cash's victories signal a decisive shift to the left for Davenport, which for the past thirty years had been held at the provincial level by Liberal MPP Tony Ruprecht. Ruprecht decided not to seek re-election this year, and Thursday his successor Cristina Martins lost by over 1,000 votes.
"The most hopeful thing in the entire province is what's happening here," Schein told a jubilant crowd at his victory party at Lula Lounge on Thursday night as Cash stood at his side. "We have won another toehold in this province to fight from. We know that there's a huge problem in this province. There are huge inequalities in this very rich country of ours. Things may get worse but we are going to fight like mad here."
Schein has a long history of community activism in the neighbourhood, having logged time with Social Planning Toronto and the Stop Community Food Network. In 2010 he ran unsuccessfully for a spot on city council, losing out to Cesar Palacio.
The multi-ethnic neighbourhood faces several social challenges, with half the population being made up of immigrants and unemployment sitting at an unenviable seven per cent.
Visibly overwhelmed after his victory Thursday night, Schein vowed to fight for constituents who have fallen on hard times.
"There are people in desperate straits here, people with real problems, with no affordable housing, no affordable childcare spaces, seniors who are struggling," he said. "We need to make sure that they have the connection to services that they need."
The NDP picked up seven seats on Thursday, raising their total at Queen's Park from 10 to 17. Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals were projected to win a minority government with 53 seats, narrowly missing out on a majority by a single riding.