Monday, March 28, 2011

Better Know a Canadian Electoral District: Burlington

(In case anyone was wondering, CalgaryGrit already took over "Better Know a Riding" - plus countless others)

The riding of Burlington, Ontario encompasses approx. 120,000 citizens of the City of Burlington, or about 70% of the populated portion of the City (the other 30%, and the rural areas, are apart of Halton riding). It's considered the western tip of those 45 Greater Toronto Area ridings people love to talk about, as well as apart of the Golden Horseshoe portion of ridings, as well as a Hamilton-area riding.

No matter what anyone tells you, the riding is a straight up Conservative-Liberal fight, with the riding breaking for current Con MP Mike Wallace winning 48.6% of votes, former Lib MP Paddy Torsney winning 33.3%, NDP candidate David Laird with 11.2%, and Green candidate Marnie Mellish on 6.9%, with about 65% of people voting - down from 2006's 73%, mostly thanks to the disappearing act of about 5,000 Liberals.

That being said, despite the 15-point deficit, the riding has gone Liberal in the past, as it did between 1993 and 2006, when it was represented by Torsney who got between 44% and 46% on all four, until 2006's change of government, which saw Wallace win in a squeaker with 43.1% to Torsney's 39.1%.

This time around though, Torsney will not be running. Instead, new candidate and local lawyer Alyssa Brierley will be running instead, facing off against Wallace and Laird again, as well as Green candidate Stephanie Tambari, a parachute candidate after the Greens were deregistered in the riding (sorry for the confusion yesterday!).

Wallace, a former city councillor who, while essentially background noise to the Harper government, sits on the finance committee and is a personable kind of guy, and he will be tough to beat for the Liberals. It will take a huge effort on behalf of the local Liberal establishment - which is large, even in this Tory-inclined city - and a big push for name recognition on Alyssa's part. I'm biased, so I will automatically say she can do it, but I expect a slogging match. Laird and Tambari are, at best, spoiler votes, though I hope we can expect them to take on Wallace just as hard as well.

Here's a short rundown of the candidates:

Mike Wallace, MP - Conservative
47-year old former Burlington City Councillor (1994-2003), Wallace currently sits on the House of Commons Finance and Industry committees, as well as several smaller caucus committees. He first ran in 2004 when he lost to then-incumbent MP Paddy Torsney, but returned in 2006 for a win, and increased his plurality in 2008. That said, he underperforms compared to past PC MPs, and faces a strong local Liberal establishment.

Alyssa Brierley - Liberal
A 31-year old lawyer and student with a very long list of majors and fields of study, with time spent abroad studying and working on political and legal issues. She's also involved in some boards and volunteer organizations in the Burlington area, and has accomplished a lot for someone so young. She's the classic Iggy candidate, with a history in academia and a passion for public service, and I'm sure we'll be hearing about the "Burlington elite" soon enough from the other corners.

David Laird - New Democrat
Laird has been the NDP candidate for Burlington since the 2004 election, and has stayed steady between 10% and 12%, peaking in 2006 with 12.4% of the vote. He's a social worker, specifically a Child Protection Worker for the Children's Aid Society in Toronto. He's lived in Burlington for years and has a family here with some deep roots, but unfortunately that hasn't seemed to have caught on yet. His best goal would be to get about 20% of the vote, what former mayor Walter Mulkewich got in the the 1984 vote - compared to 62% for then-MP Bill Kempling. Long ways away, however.

Stephanie Tombari - Green
I honestly do not know who Stephanie Tambari is, as that's apparently the name registered on - but, I suspect it may actually be Stephanie Tombari, a Green activist from the Toronto area, so I'm taking a guess that this will be our Green candidate in this riding. She's a parachute candidate as local Greens in Burlington were deregistered for some reason, not sure what (if anyone knows why, please drop me a line). The question is - will we see anything from this candidate? Or is it just another name on the ballot? Important because the Greens could play a spoiler vote in the riding if it is a race between Wallace and Brierley, so we shall see (and sorry to Ms. Tombari if it isn't you!).


  1. I'm thinking it's going to feel more like a Tory root canal for Mr. Wallace. Go Alyssa!

  2. I don't think I could have put it better myself, rockfish!