Though many thought the Eglinton–Lawrence riding would come down to the wire, the story unfolded much differently.
Liberal incumbent Mike Colle walked away the victor, easily defeating PC challenger Rocco Rossi by more than 8,000 votes. Speaking to supporters at his victory party at California Sandwiches on Dufferin Street north of Eglinton Avenue West, Colle showed gratitude and praised his campaign team.
“Whether it was on Yonge Street, on Wilson or on Lotherton or in Lawrence Heights, people were so passionate,” he said to the standing room only crowd only minutes after being declared the winner. “I want to thank you for that passion.”
To wild applause, Colle reminded the crowd this was win number five. He used that as a platform to express his gratitude to those involved in this campaign.
“This is a night that I want to say a very deep heartfelt thank you to so many people,” Colle said, while getting visibly emotional. “I’ve never had so many dedicated, passionate volunteers. People were really in this with their hearts.”
The tone of his speech then turned from somber to more of a rallying cry.
“People were saying to me ‘We remember Eglinton stopped and killed, we remember Northwestern hospital closed down, we remember the schools that were on strike, Mike, don’t let that happen again’,” he said, rousing the crowd.
“I said, ‘I’m going to stay here and make sure that our community is protected, that we get the hospital, that we get the subway and that we’re not going to have Mike Harris junior come in here and do the same thing to this community he did before.’ ”
Earlier in the night, Colle’s son, Ward 15 city councillor Josh Colle, told the Town Crier the campaign was the toughest he remembers ever having worked on.
“We always kind of operate as though we’re massive underdogs and this time people told us we were, so that was a bit different,” he said, before giving thanks to the hundreds of volunteers the campaign had. “A lot of hard work paid off. We had a ton of volunteers and honestly the best team in the city and the province.”
Just a kilometer up the road, a similar message was coming from Rossi, but with a much different tone.
“There are very few people in the world who have the experience of having hundreds of people volunteer for them and work their hearts out … just because they believe in you and what you stand for,” he said.
“Obviously everyone likes to win, but if you can be judged by the caliber of the people who support you, then I am a very lucky man.”
Though Rossi said he’s not sure of what his next project will be, he did say how he plans to spend his next few weeks.
“My closest friend is getting married on the 15th in Ravello (Italy), and it’s not a hard duty to spend a few days on the Amalfi Coast, so I’m looking forward to that with my wife.” he said. “The next step is taking some time with my family.”
Meanwhile, back at Colle’s celebration, longtime Lawrence Heights activist Hersi Abdirizack was elated by the Liberal win.
“Mike has distributed a lot of jobs in our community and that’s why we elect him and work for him. We always work for people who show enthusiasm for this neighbourhood,” he said. “Apart from his political side, he is very kind, very humble and a very nice person who listens and answers the questions of the people.”