Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy is running for the provincial Tories in the upcoming St.Paul's byelection. Good luck to her, cuz she's going to need it.[briefbreak]
The Sun's city hall scribe is as right-wing as they come. No small-c here. When the Levy breaks, so to speak, she really gushes, usually from the gospel according to Mike Harris.
An odd choice, really, to carry the banner in St. Paul's, an area that's a little too uptown for Ms. Levy's 905 brand of bread and butter conservatism. She's Tim Hortons. St. Paul's is Starbucks. The riding consistently rates among the top in average income and post-secondary education. Its political sensibilities have been decidedly centre-left for the last two decades.
Grit incumbent Michael Bryant held the riding for 10 years before he stepped down a few months back to become the mayor's Invest Toronto point man. Federally, Liberal Carolyn Bennett has owned the turf since 93, winning by at least a 15,000-vote margin each election.
More than a few political pundits thought the federal Tories had a shot when they ran star candidate Peter Kent here against Bennett in the 2006 federal election. Kent's pro-Israel bent was widely viewed as a winning issue with the riding's strong Jewish base. But not even the urbane good looks, smooth delivery and war correspondent resume could help him.
He was soundly trounced by Bennett by a margin of two to one.
The federal and provincial political arenas are different. But not much. It's doubtful, whatever the voter animosity toward Dalton McGuinty for the current economic mess (eHealth hiring scandal included), it won't be enough to undo the Grit decade-old stranglehold. Byelections can be tricky for parties in power, but St. Paul's has long been a bellwether. It's not very often that voters here opt for other than the candidate representing the party in power.
Levy, though, will do for a provincial Tory party trying to soften its image now that newly-minted Mike Harris clone Tim Hudak and his guns and property rights crowd have taken over.
Running a Jewish lesbian - Levy proudly came out in a 2007 front page article in the Sun (we knew all along) and is now married - looks pretty good for the Hudak hordes, at least on paper.
And Levy's not without some powerful, personal political connections of her own. Longtime Tory fixer Jeff Lyons, a big money raiser back in the day, is her uncle. We can only imagine the chatter at family gatherings.
Levy, though, may want to keep uncle Jeff away from this one, especially if she's going to get on her high horse about the Grit's eHealth problems.
Lyons, some will remember, was front and centre in that computer leasing scandal that undid Mel Lastman. Back then, Levy advocated putting an end to the inquiry called to investigate the scandal that cost taxpayers $102 million. Go figure. [rssbreak]