Scarborough-Rouge-River now Tory blue

Patrick Brown left and Raymond Cho
Patrick Brown left and Raymond Cho

The provincial Toronto riding of Scarborough- Rouge River which was represented by two Caribbean-born Liberals over the last 16 years, is now a Tory seat.

In the byelection in the riding  last Thursday to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Trinidad-born MPP Bas Balkissoon who held the seat since 2005, Raymond Cho, the Progressive Conservative candidate won, beating his closest rival, Liberal candidate Piragal Thiru, by 2,427 votes.

In the riding  which contains the neighbourhoods of Amadale, Malvern, Moningside Heights and part of Agincourt and Miliken,  the voter turnout was low – only 28.4 per cent.

But Cho, an 80-year old Korea-born Toronto City Councillor,  received enthusiastic support from some people from the Caribbean community.

“Cho is a humble man who is looking  out for all members of the community, including those from the Caribbean which I am here representing with One Love,” Marline Jenkins told The Caribbean Camera on Thursday night outside Cho’s campaign office where victory celebrations were held.

She had high praise for Cho’s “numerous endeavours”  in the community, including his support for the establishment of sports facilities and the Toronto Caribbean Children’s  Carnival in Malvern

Also present at the victory celebration were young members of the Black community. Among them were Benn Adeoba and Steven Amirileah who said they are Progressive Conservatives.

Adeoba claimed that his party is working hard to make a better society.

At the victory  celebration Cho  promised to be ” a very strong voice”  at Queen’s Park for Scarborough-Rouge River.

Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown who was present at  Cho’s campaign office, was peppered by reporters with questions about his flip-flopping over the Liberal government’s controversial sex-education curriculum..

During the campaign, a letter was distributed in the riding under Brown’s name, saying that if his party formed the government after the 2018 provincial elections, it would scrap the changes in the sex-education curriculum.

Days later, Brown disavowed the letter, saying that he did not see ii before it went out and that if he was premier, he was not going to be scrapping sex education.

The sex-education curriculum was updated last year for the first time since 1998 but there  were complaints by many parents in the province about some of the matters  which it dealt with such as same-sex relationships, gender identity and masturbation.

Brown said he was cognizant of his changing position on sex-education, calling it a mistake to pledge to scrap it.

However, some political observers noted that pocket-book issues such as high hydro rates were of greater concern to the voters in the riding than sex-education.

Commenting on the result of the byelection, Thiru who had got together on Monday night with  Liberal supporters at a Guyanese restaurant in Scarborough, said  ” of course, we’re disappointed.”

In a statement issued after the result of the byelection was announced, Premier Kathleen Wynne also noted her disappointment. She said the result  ” gives me cause for reflection ”

Scarborough-Rouge River had been a Liberal  seat since it was created in 1999. First elected as MPP for the riding was Jamaica-born Alvin Curling,  a former speaker of the Ontario Legislature and Minister of Housing and Skills Development.He represented  the riding for two consecutive terms.

In  2005, Balkissoon was first elected to the riding. He continued to represent Scarborough- Rouge River until March this year when he resigned as an MPP.

Balkisson served as parliamentary assistant to several  ministers but was never promoted to the Liberal cabinet.

Before entering provincial politics, he served as a Toronto City Councillor.