Opposition targets scandals, HST in Toronto byelection

Ontario’s governing Liberals are hoping to hang on to an importantToronto riding today as voters head to the polls for a crucialbyelection.

Ontario’s governing Liberals are hoping to hang on to an important Toronto riding today as voters head to the polls for a crucial byelection.

But opposition party candidates insist that voter anger over proposed tax harmonization and expense fiascos at provincial agencies will be enough to dislodge the Liberals from the seat they’ve held for a decade.

“People are really tired of more taxes, they’re tired of their taxes not being spent in a value-for-money manner,” said Tory candidate Sue-Ann Levy, a city hall columnist for the Toronto Sun who has taken a leave of absence to run for office.

NDP candidate Julian Heller, a lawyer and longtime resident of the riding, said the spending scandals at government agencies and the single sales tax are “lightening rods” for a community that’s already unhappy with the Liberals.

McGuinty remained optimistic yesterday, saying his government’s record on such issues as education, health care, the environment and the economy will also influence voters.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, a former adviser to Lloyd Axworthy who helped create War Child Canada, is carrying the Liberal banner in the riding but was unavailable for comment yesterday. Chris Chopik will represent the Green Party.

One expert believes the Conservatives, who are eager to attract urban voters, have more to gain in the race than the Liberals.

PC leader Tim Hudak played down his party’s chances of victory yesterday, calling the riding a “Liberal stronghold” even though it was held by the Conservatives before former cabinet minister Michael Bryant won it in 1999.