Wrzesnewskyj retakes Etobicoke Centre

Liberal Candidate Borys Wrzesnewskyj (right) has won riding of Etobicoke Centre with 52.5 per cent of vote. (Photo: Alex Martino) Liberal Candidate Borys Wrzesnewskyj (right) has won riding of Etobicoke Centre with 52.5 per cent of vote. (Photo: Alex Martino)

Alex Martino and Sarah Trumbley
Senior Reporters

Etobicoke Centre was one of the most fierce battles of this election and Borys Wrzeshniewskyj won it.

The riding gained national attention in the 2011 election when a vote recount went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The recount determined that just 26 votes separated Conservative Ted Opitz and then-incumbent Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj.

Until that election, the Liberals had held the riding for 18-years, winning elections with comfortable leads.

Prominent Liberal Allan Rock represented the riding until 2004 when he packed his bags after former Prime Minister Jean Chretien stepped down.

Local business owner Wrzesnewskyj of Future Bakery succeeded him and held the seat through three Liberal leaders.

The 2011 election brought in Ted Opitz, a telecom engineer turned businessman with military experience, who served in Bosnia as part of NATO forces.

This year’s election proved that the Conservatives had lost a significant following in the Etobicoke Centre riding.

Despite a forum poll holding both Wrzesnewskyj and Opitz in a dead heat last month, the end results  reflected a much larger support for the Liberal party

CBC reported Wrzesnewskyj lead the Etobicoke Centre polls with a confortable 53 per cent of votes in their riding.

Incumbent Ted Opitz took just 37 per cent with just over 23 thousand votes compared to his riding rival who gained  more than 32 thousand votes.

Running for the first time in this election was NDP candidate Tanya De Mello, the Equity and Diversity Officer at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.

Her resume is filled with community building, peace efforts with the United Nations and experience fighting for labour rights.

The key to winning the riding depended in large part on the ability to reach the Eastern European community.

Both Wrzesnewskyj, a Ukrainian-Canadian, and Opitz, a Polish-Canadian, campaigned specifically on issues relating to both communities.

Much of their work in public service has been focused on Canada’s relations with Poland and Ukraine.

De Mello also did her part to get out the Ukrainian-Canadian vote, publicizing her endorsement by singer Rosava on her campaign website.

However, her reputation and public support only gained 8 per cent of the votes with less than 5 thousand.

This election, Wrzesnewskyj was looking for redemption and he got it. As a community fixture in Etobicoke, the former MP found his grassroots connection to the area to return to the Parliament Hill.

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