Donald Blair (right) talks to a group of youth at his kick-off barbecue

By-election fever kicks-off in Scarborough


Since August, when former Ontario Speaker Alvin Curling resigned his Scarborough-Rouge River seat at Queen's Park to become Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, murmursof a by-election have been swirling about political circles. This week, those murmurs began to transform themselves into action on the ground. For one man, at least, that meant a campaign kickoff barbecue, to meet and greet members of his local Malvern community.

Donald Blair, a former member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, announced his intention today to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination for the yet-to-be-announced by-election in Scarborough-Rouge River. Donald spent most of his time at this sparsely attended (explained by campaign staff as being due to having being rescheduled from the previous week because of rain) barbecue talking to local residents of all ages, often doing more listening than talking, and finding out about their concerns and their views on the issues.

Although starting his campaign on a very upbeat note, Blair (who, I should note in the interests of disclosure, has been a friend of mine since we both volunteered for Kids Help Phone back in the 90s) has a difficult road ahead of him. Should he win the nomination, he will have to face off against Liberal candidate Bas Balkissoon in this strongly Liberal riding, which as even his campaign staff admit will be an uphill battle.

Still, this will be the second provincial by-election since Dalton McGuinty became Premier, and many expect it to be more a referendum on his rule than anything else. Team Blair certainly seems to hope that it will at least play a factor - one of the themes that seemed to resonate most with the residents that Donald Blair spoke with was that of Liberal broken promises.

With the by-election not expected until November, it's still anybody's game. One thing is for certain though - it will be an election watched the province over.


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