Marci Ien wins seat as Liberals face stiff challenges in two Toronto byelections


Marci Ien celebrates her election victory with daughter, Blaize, and son, Dash.

Broadcaster Marci Ien hung on to Toronto Centre for the Liberals, fending off a strong showing by recently elected Green party leader, Annamie Paul  in Monday’s byelection.

Ien captured 42 per cent of the votes, just over nine points ahead of Paul whose recent elevation to the helm of the Green Party clearly boosted her profile.

Ien said that on Monday evening after the polls had closed, she was at her home with her daughter, Blaize, who” was looking at the results online.

“I was really too afraid to look,”  she  told the Caribbean Camera.

But when she received the news that she had won, she and her daughter drove down  to her campaign  office ” where some of  my loyal volunteers were cheering and clapping  and I thanked them for all their hard work.”

Later in  the evening, she got a phone call from Prime Minister Trudeau.

” The prime minister congratulated me on amazing campaign which was difficult during the pandemic and  said that he looked forward to working with me.”

Ien recalled that during her recent campaign she met  many young people who were looking at me and must have been thinking that  running for  political  office is something they could do.”

” I want them to know that this is possible. I am the daughter of immigrants from Port of Spain, Trinidad and if I can  be here in this position, they also can be in the same position.”

The Liberals  has also retained the seat in York Centre where long-time community advocate Ya’ra Saks won  45.7 per cent of the votes, less than four points ahead of  Conservative candidate Julius Tiangson.

The two byelections marked the first electoral test of the Liberal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in both cases, the Liberals saw their share of the vote drop markedly.

During last fall’s general election, the Liberals took Toronto Centre with just over 57 per cent of the vote  and York Centre with just over 50 per cent.

Paul ran a distant fourth in Toronto Centre in that election with just seven per cent of the votes.

Former finance minister Bill Morneau resigned as Toronto Centre’s MP  on August 21, and Liberal Michael Levitt stepped down as the MP for York Centre on September 1.

Both ridings are long-time Liberal strongholds.

Toronto Centre has been held by the Liberals for decades, including by former interim party leaders Bob Rae and Bill Graham.

Although long considered one of the safest Liberal seats in the country, York Centre fell to the Conservatives in 2011 before Levitt wrested it back in 2015.