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Toronto’s former top cop takes forever to win Vaughan by-election

Toronto’s former top cop takes forever to win Vaughan by-election

The Liberals managed to make the Vaughan by-election a tight race—so tight that it wasn’t called until after midnight—but, in the end, Conservative star candidate Julian Fantino won a seat in Parliament that had been held by the Grits for a generation. The Tories’ early lead in the riding was in jeopardy during a campaign that made Fantino look more like a fugitive than a decorated former police chief. In the end, the CPC took the riding by only two points.

The National Post reports:

Virtually guaranteed a cabinet post, Mr. Fantino was tightly muzzled during the campaign, skipping a last-minute debate and prompting his opponents to accuse him of running a “peek-a-boo” campaign. He defended his decision by saying he had to attend a memorial mass for the anniversary of his father-in-law’s death.

Despite Mr. Fantino’s profile, the area has historic Liberal roots. The former York North riding was once home to former Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and the area was represented by Maurizio Bevilacqua for more than 20 years.

Fantino’s win raises some big questions for his future in Ottawa, like what cabinet post he’ll be given if indeed he’s “virtually guaranteed” one: while he’d presumably be a natural for one of the security or police files, those are a bit high-profile for a man who will still be learning where the bathrooms are. But will Fantino be happy in some low-level cabinet post that the prime minister doesn’t care about? Heritage? Environment?

The other question for Fantino’s future is whether this, like Rob Ford’s big win, means that the Liberal fortress of Toronto is ready to be sacked by Conservatives. At the moment, the argument can be made either way: sure, Fantino won, but it took megawatt star power to eke out the smallest of wins in a by-election where the future of the country wasn’t at stake. Fantino has a bit of an uphill battle now; he needs to escape the “peekaboo” campaign story (Rex Murphy essentially called him a coward) and get ready to be made fun of by the Liberal benches.

Actually, maybe he doesn’t have that much to worry about after all.

• Fantino wins in Vaughan while Liberals and Tories split Manitoba ridings [National Post] • Vaughan by-election loss adds to Ignatieff’s woes [Globe and Mail]

• Fantino wins Vaughan byelection in close finish [Toronto Star]

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