Ontario election 2022: How will the tightest races from 2018 in the GTA shake out?

Why Doug Ford is channeling John Diefenbaker and how his nephew and Toronto's former police chief are faring in their election races. Cynthia Mulligan explains.

By Meredith Bond and Cynthia Mulligan

GTA candidates in Ontario’s June 2 provincial election have been on the campaign trail for weeks and many are running in some of the tightest races in the province.

There are seven GTA ridings where fewer than 1,000 votes separated the winner from runners-up in the 2018 election. In some cases, the margins were fewer than 100 ballots. There was also a close three-way battle where the Progressive Conservatives have now thrown a curveball.

CityNews looking at how the race is unfolding in these battleground areas this time around, with exclusive polling from Forum Research.

First: a look at the big picture. Forum President Lorne Boznioff said his company’s polling currently indicates that the PCs are heading towards their majority win, with 38 per cent of the vote. However, if the election were held today, polling predicts the Liberals would take over from the New Democrats as the province’s official opposition.

“The nature of the campaign is there’s a record now for Doug Ford, but he hasn’t really lost much support during the give-and-take of the campaign yet. Because the other two parties are really just mesmerized with themselves and who’s going to be in second and third. They really haven’t prosecuted the case against Doug Ford and because of that, the Tories support has not been down,” explained Boznioff.

For any party to achieve success, they’ll have to do well in the vote-rich GTA, which holds more than 50 of Ontario’s 124 legislative seats. Here is a look at the seven tightest races in the GTA from 2018 and how they could shake out on June 2:

Brampton Centre

Population: 104,557

2022 candidates
PC: Charmaine Williams
Liberal: Safdar Hussain
NDP: Sara Singh (incumbent)
Green: Karitsa Tye

Brampton Centre is currently being held by the NDP after Sara Singh beat out Progressive Conservative candidate Harhit Jaswal by just 89 votes. The riding was dissolved in 2007 and was reformatted for the 2018 election.

Singh is currently one of the New Democrats’ deputy leaders and is the opposition critic for long-term care and the attorney general.

This year, Singh is looking for re-election in Brampton Centre against first-time candidate Charmaine Williams, for the PCs, and Liberal candidate Safdar Hussain, who also ran in 2018 and collected 17 per cent of the vote. Karitsa Tye is running for the Green Party.

Forum Research shows this riding is still a tight race but could be a PC pickup from the NDP, with Williams currently showing a four-point lead over Singh.

2018 results
NDP: Sara Singh – 12,892 (38.37 per cent)
PC: Harjit Jaswal – 12,803 (38.11 per cent)
Liberal: Safdar Hussain – 5,825 (17.34 per cent)
Green: Laila Zarrabi Yan – 1,053 (3.13 per cent)

Brampton North

Population: 125,141

2022 candidates
PC: Graham McGregor
Liberal: Harinder K. Malhi
NDP: Sandeep Singh
Green: Aneep Dhade

Just under 500 votes brought Kevin Yarde of the NDP to victory against Ripudaman Dhillon of the PCs in 2018, but Yarde was beat out in the NDP nomination process by Sandeep Singh. The only returning candidate from 2018 is Harinder Malhi of the Liberals, who captured 21 per cent of the vote in 2018.

Newcomer Singh will face off against another first-time candidate: Graham McGregor, who has spent the last three years working for the provincial government.

The Forum Research poll shows the NDP candidate, at 30 per cent, is trailing 10 points behind McGregor, who is polling at 40 per cent. If this carries through to election day, the PCs would pick up yet another seat they lost to the NDP in 2018.

“I have to think looking at the Brampton ridings the big deal is Highway 413,” said Boznioff. The route for Highway 413 has been controversial, cutting through farmland and ecologically sensitive areas. Many municipalities in the area have come out against the planned highway. Bozinoff continued: “But maybe Doug knows what he’s doing. Maybe people do want the 413 and that’s what this is, reflecting the solid strength and the [riding] pickups there on the conservative side.”

2018 results
NDP: Kevin Yarde – 14,877 (37.55 per cent)
PC: Ripudaman Dhillon – 14,380 (36.29 per cent)
Liberals: Harinder Malhi – 8,410 (21.22 per cent)
Green: Pauline Thornham – 1,366 (3.45 per cent)

Brampton West

Population: 162,353

2022 candidates
PC: Amarjot Sandhu (incumbent)
Liberal: Rimmy Jhajj
NDP: Navjit Kaur
Green: Pauline Thornham

Incumbent Amarjot Sandhu will be vying to hold on to the seat he won by just 490 votes over the NDP candidate. He will be going up against newcomers Rimmy Jhajj for the Liberals, Navjit Kaur from the NDP, and Green Party candidate Pauline Thornham, who ran for the party in nearby Brampton North last election.

Forum Research shows again that Brampton West won’t be an easy race.

“We’ve got almost a dead heat with the Liberals,” said Boznioff. “This is a riding that was won by the Tories closely over the NDP last time. Now the NDP seems to be out of it and now it’s between the Liberals and PCs.”

Sandhu and the conservatives are now polling just two points ahead of Liberal candidate Jhajj.

2018 results
PC: Amarjot Sandhu – 14,951 (39.39 per cent)
NDP: Jagroop Singh – 14,461 (38.09 per cent)
Liberal: Vic Dhillon – 7,013 (18.47 per cent)
Green: Julie Guillemet-Ackerman – 999 (2.63 per cent)

Don Valley West

Population: 101,959

2022 candidates
PC: Mark Saunders
Liberal: Stephanie Bowman
NDP: Irwin Elman
Green: Sheena Sharp

Former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has represented Don Valley West since 2003. In 2018, while most her party colleagues were swept off Ontario’s elector map, she managed to hold onto her seat by just 181 votes. This time around, Wynne will not be running again, leaving the seat without an incumbent for the first time in more than two decades.

Stepping into the void is former Toronto police chief, Mark Saunders. In his first time campaigning for elected office, he’s running under the PC banner. He will be up against Stephanie Bowman for the Liberals, Irwin Elman for the NDP and Sheena Sharp for the Green Party.

“[Wynne] held that riding despite a massive tide going out for the Liberals and now the tide is coming back in a bit,” said Bozinoff.

Despite no longer having Wynne, and a recognizable name running for the PCs, Forum Research indicates the Liberals will hold onto Don Valley West. The polling suggests Bowman will take 46 per cent of the vote, with Saunders coming in second, at 32 per cent.

“It’s true the Tories are running a marquee candidate in Mark Sanders. They’re hoping to steal it away. It is a big name, but it’s a tough road ahead for the Conservatives because [Don Valley West] is a strong Liberal riding and they are running a fairly good candidate,” explained Boznioff. In her campaign materials, Bowman says she and her family have lived in Don Valley West for 28 years. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a former board member of the Bank of Canada.

2018 results

Liberal: Kathleen Wynne – 17,802 (38.89 per cent)
PC: Jon Kieran – 17,621 (38.49 per cent)
NDP: Amara Possian – 8,620 (18.83 per cent)
Green: Morgan Bailey – 1,268 (2.77 per cent)

RELATED: Ontario election 2022: How you can vote, what’s new, and COVID measures


Population: 115,832

2022 candidates
PC: Robin Martin (incumbent)
Liberal: Arlena Hebert
NDP: Natasha Doyle
Green Party: Leah Tysoe

Progressive Conservative incumbent candidate Robin Martin will be up against a slate of new candidates for the 2022 election after beating out Liberal Mike Colle in 2018 by fewer than 1,000 votes. Colle had held the seat since 1999 and had won five consecutive elections for the Liberals.

This time around, Martin will be up against first-time area candidates Arlena Hebert for the Liberals, NDP candidate Natasha Doyle-Merrick, who was only selected on May 5, and Leah Tysoe for the Greens. Also running is Sam Kaplun, the former President of the Eglinton-Lawrence NDP riding association. He resigned that post in April after the Ontario NDP barred him from running under their umbrella due to “social media comportment” and is running as an independent.

The Forum Research data suggests the seat will swing back to the Liberals in a big way.

“That’s an old historic Liberal riding in the middle of the city,” said Bozinoff. “So a little bit of a shine off the conservatives in that riding.”

The Liberals’ Herbert is currently polling at 61 per cent, while the PC’s Martin is expected to pick up 26 per cent of the vote.

2018 results
PC: Robin Martin – 19,999 (40.38 per cent)
Liberal: Mike Colle – 19,042 (38.45 per cent)
NDP: Robyn Vilde – 8,985 (18.14 per cent)
Green:Reuben Anthony Deboer – 1,190 (2.40 per cent)


Population: 103,449

2022 candidates
PC: Alicia Vianga
Liberal: Mitzie Hunter (incumbent)
NDP: Veronica Javier
Green: Dean Boulding

Scarborough-Guildwood has been a Liberal stronghold since its creation in 2007 and has been held by incumbent Mitzie Hunter since 2013. As part of the Liberal collapse in 2018, the seat almost went to the conservatives. Hunter, who was Minister of Education in Wynne’s government, pulled out a win by less than 75 votes against PC candidate Roshan Nallaratnam.

This year, she’ll be facing newcomers Alicia Vianga for the conservatives, NDP candidate Veronica Javier, and Dean Boulding for the Greens as she looks to win a third consecutive election.

Forum Research’s polling indicates Hunter should hold onto her seat, despite the slim margin in 2018. This time around, she is polling much higher than the PC candidate at 47 per cent of the vote. Currently in second is PC candidate Vianga at 33 per cent.

“The Liberals that withstood the Tory tide last time. Those seats can be very, very hard for the Tories to pick up now because the Liberal vote is up, not down, from last time,” said Boznioff. “It’s going to be hard for the Tories to make gains at the Liberals’ expense. And that’s for sure the case in this riding.”

2018 results
Liberal: Mitzie Hunter – 11,972 (33.34 per cent)
PC: Roshan Nallaratnam – 11,898 (33.14 per cent)
NDP: Tom Packwood – 9,917 (27.62 per cent)
Green: Linda Rice – 878 (2.45 per cent)

Scarborough-Rouge Park

Population: 102,254

2022 candidates
PC: Vijay Thanigasalam (incumbent)
Liberal: Manal Abdullahi
NDP: Felicia Samuel
Green: Priyan De Silva

Progressive Conservative Vijay Thanigasalam is vying for re-election, after capturing the Scarborough-Rouge Park seat by fewer than 1,000 votes over NDP Felicia Samuel in 2018. Samuel is taking another crack at the seat for the New Democrats this year. The Green candidate, Priyan De Silva, is also running once again, while first-time candidate Manal Abdullahi will be running for the Liberals.

Forum Research indicates Thanigasalam will hold on to this riding, and widen his margin of victory this time around. He’s currently leading in the polls, garnering 41 per cent of the vote. Liberal candidate Abdullahi is expected to be the runner up, with 29 per cent of the vote.

2018 result
PC: Vijay Thanigasalam – 16,224 (38.61 per cent)
NDP: Felicia Samuel – 15,261 (36.32 per cent)
Liberal: Sumi Shan – 8,785 (20.91 per cent)
Green: Priyan De Silva – 1,014 (2.41 per cent)

York-South Weston

Population: 116,757

2022 candidates
PC: Michael Ford
Liberal: Nadia Guerrera
NDP: Faisal Hassan (incumbent)
Green: Ignacio Mongrell Gonzalez

In 2018, about 3,000 votes separated the winner from third place in York-South Weston. Votes in the riding were split three ways between the PCs, Liberals and the New Democrats. It was NDP candidate Faisal Hassan who ended up snatching the seat from Liberal incumbent Laura Albanese.

This year, a PC candidate with a high degree of name recognition is running in the riding: Michael Ford, Toronto city councillor and nephew of PC leader Doug Ford. The polling indicates Ford currently has large lead, at 44 per cent, over the NDP incumbent, who is expected to drop to third in this election. The Liberal candidate is currently expected to finish second, polling at 27 per cent.

“This was a riding that the NDP held last time that is traditionally a Liberal riding,” said Boznioff. “[Ford] doesn’t live in the riding. He lives close by in Etobicoke … so he’s kind of being parachuted in, but he does have the Ford name and it is a time when the Ford name is pretty popular. The premier’s personal popularity is pretty high, and I think those coattails are going to do it for Michael.”

2018 results
NDP: Faisal Hassan – 13,455 (36.07 per cent)
PC: Mark DeMontis – 12,290 (32.95 per cent)
Liberal: Laura Albanese – 10,379 (27.83 per cent)
Green: Grad Murray – 946 (2.54 per cent)

The poll was conducted on May 13 to 15 by Forum Research using an interactive voice response telephone survey of randomly selected eligible voters. The results based on the total sample are considered accurate +/- 7% for a sample of 200 and 9% for a sample of 100, 19 times out of 20.

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