Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 30 Federal by-election profiles: Trinity--Spadina

Location of Trinity-Spadina in Toronto
Federal by-elections will be held in four ridings on June 30th: two in Ontario (Scarborough—Agincourt and Trinity—Spadina) and two in Alberta (Fort McMurray—Athabasca and Macleod). I will be doing profiles of each of the four ridings in the run-up to by-election day. Today I will be profiling Trinity—Spadina.

Trinity—Spadina is an urban riding covering the western half of Downtown Toronto, plus adjacent areas like The Annex, Little Italy, Trinity-Bellwoods and the Toronto Islands. Trinity—Spadina has been vacant since March, when its MP – New Democrat Olivia Chow – resigned to run for mayor of Toronto. Chow, the widow of former NDP leader Jack Layton represented the riding since 2006, when she defeated the incumbent Liberal MP, Tony Ianno.


Trinity—Spadina is located on Toronto's waterfront, taking in part of the city's downtown. It includes the Toronto Islands, and runs from Lake Ontario in the south the CPR railway north of Dupont Street in the north. The northern half of the riding extends from Ossington Avenue in the west to Avenue Road in the east. Below College Street, Yonge Street forms the eastern border, while the western border follows Ossington until Dundas Street, then Dovercourt Road, the CNR, Dufferin Street, the Gardiner Expressway and then Spencer Avenue to the lakefront.

The riding covers many of Toronto's famous neighbourhoods, like The Annex, Little Italy, Trinity-Bellwoods, Chinatown, Koreatown, the Fashion District, the Entertainment District, Kensington Market, Bay Street, the University of Toronto, and the booming Harbourfront area, home to many of the city's new condo developments. The riding is home to many famous Toronto landmarks, like the CNE, the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome), Nathan Phillips Square, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Air Canada Centre, For York, Ontario Place, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the list goes on and on.

The riding is very densely populated, and is indeed the most populated of Toronto's ridings. The Lakefront area and the Bay Street corridor are especially densely populated, being home to several new condominium developments (which have caused the riding to pass Scarborough—Rouge River as the most populated in Toronto since the 2006 Census). Since 2001, there have been more dwellings built in the riding (over 25000) than existing dwellings built before 1960, despite the riding covering some of the oldest parts of the city.

The least dense part of the riding is the Toronto Islands, which only have 657 people. Other main non-residential areas in the riding are the University of Toronto, the CNE Grounds and Trinity-Bellwoods Park.


Trinity—Spadina is an extremely diverse riding. Whites make up a majority of the population at 62%, while there is also a significant Chinese population (16%). South Asians make up 5% of the population and Blacks make up 4%. 61% of the riding has English as its mother tongue. Chinese is next at 13%, while there is also a significant Portuguese population, at 4%. The riding has an almost equal number of Christians and non religious (43%). Over half of the Christian population (24% of the total) is Catholic. There is also a significant Muslim (4%), Jewish (4%) and Buddhist (3%) population. The riding's median income is $35,000, while the median household income is $61,000. By some measures, the riding is the most wealthy riding in Canada that the NDP won in 2011 (measured by average household income in 2005).
Most common mother tongue after English

After English, Chinese is the most common mother tongue in most parts of the riding. The area surrounding Dundas Street (between College and Queen, east of Trinity-Bellwoods Park) has an especially large Chinese population. Not surprisingly, the most Chinese Census Tracts surround Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood on Spadina Street. The west-central part of the riding has a high Portuguese-speaking population, as that region is adjacent to Toronto's “Little Portugal” neighbourhood in neighbouring Davenport riding. Interestingly, Chinese is still the dominant non-English language in Little Italy, but Italian wins the day as the largest non-English language in the Seaton Village neighbourhood and in part of Palmerston, which is right next to Little Italy. On the Toronto Islands, German is the largest mother tongue language after English, but it's still a very low number.


Trinity—Spadina has existed since the 1988 election, when the riding of Spadina grew, taking in the eastern half of the riding of Trinity, and adding in the southeast corner of Parkdale—High Park. The western half of Trinity was added to the riding of Davenport. Since then, the riding has floated between the NDP and the Liberals. Its first election in 1988 featured Spadina MP Dan Heap (NDP) against businessman and Liberal political organizer Tony Ianno. Heap beat Ianno by less than 500 votes. Heap did not run again for re-election in 1993, and Ianno won the seat easily in that Liberal-wave election by nearly 10000 votes. The NDP's Winnie Ng finished second with just 27%. The 1993 election would be the best showing for the Liberal's in the riding's history, and it would be the only time the party has won a majority (51%) in the riding. In 1997, Ianno faced some stiff competition from Metro Toronto councillor Olivia Chow, running for the NDP. Ianno beat Chow by less than 2000 votes. Ianno was re-elected in 2000 by a more comfortable margin, defeating journalist Michael Valpy of the NDP by over 4000 votes. In 2004, Ianno and Chow faced off again in another close election. By this point, Chow's husband, Jack Layton was leader of the NDP. The race was very close, but Ianno held on to beat Chow by 800 votes. Ianno and Chow faced off once again in 2006, but this time Chow was victorious. Chow defeated Ianno by nearly 3700 votes. In 2008, Ianno's wife, Christine Innes ran for the Liberals against Chow. Innes ate into Chow's margin slightly, losing to her by 3500 votes. Innes and Chow ran against each other again in 2011, but this time Chow won in a landslide, winning by over 20000 votes. Chow won 55% of the vote, which is the highest vote share the NDP has ever won in the riding. Consequently, Innes' 23% was the Liberal's worst showing ever.

The Tories have never been a factor in Trinity—Spadina, since its creation. Their best showing was in 1988, when accountant Joe Pimentel won 21% of the vote. Their next highest showing was in 2011 when business owner Gin Siow won 17%. The Green Party's best result was in 2008 when arts educator Stephen La Frenie won 9% of the vote.

Including Trinity—Spadina's predecessor riding of Spadina, the NDP and Liberals have traded places for first and second in this riding since 1979. The NDP first won the riding when Heap won a by-election in 1981. The Tories last won the seat in 1958, and were not competitive in the riding after 1962.


West Toronto

Most of today's Trinity—Spadina was in this riding from Confederation until 1904. During this time, it consisted of Toronto's historic St. Andrew's, St. George's and St. Patrick's Wards. It also consisted of St. John's Ward from 1867 to 1872. It was represented by two members from 1896 to 1904.

- R.A. Harrison, Cons. (1867-1872)
- J.W. Crawford, Cons. (1872)
- Thos. Moss, Liberal (1872-1875)
- J.B. Robinson, Cons. (1875-1880)
- Jas. Beaty, Jr., Cons. (1880-1887)
- F.C. Denison, Cons. (1887-1896)
- E.B. Osler, Cons. (1896-1904)
- E.F. Clarke, Cons. (1896-1904)

Toronto Centre

In 1903, what is now Trinity—Spadina covered several downtown ridings, namely Toronto Centre, Toronto South, Toronto North and Toronto West. Toronto Centre covered a rectangle, bordered by College Street and Carlton Street on the north, Sherbourne Street on the east, Queen Street on the south and Palmerston Avenue on the west. Toronto North was located north of College/Carlton, Toronto South was located south of Queen while Toronto West was located west of Palmerston. Almost all of Toronto Centre was located in today's Trinity—Spadina.

- E.F. Clarke, Cons. (1904-1905) continued
- E.J. Bristol, Cons. (1905-1917)

Toronto West

In the 1914 redistribution, Toronto Centre and Toronto West moved eastward to the point where Toronto West made up most of what is now Trinity—Spadia. Toronto West was bordered on the north by Bloor Street, on the east by Spadina Avenue, on the south by Queen Street and on the west by Dovercourt Road.

- H.C. Hocken, Cons (1917-1925)

Toronto West Centre

In the 1924 redistribution, what is now Trinity—Spadina was mostly divided into two ridings, Toronto West Centre and Toronto South. Toronto West Centre was a rectangular riding bounded by Bloor Street, Dovercourt Road, Dundas Street and Avenue Road / University Avenue. Toronto South was located south of Dundas between Jarvis Street and Atlantic Avenue. Almost all of Toronto West Centre was in what is today's Trinity—Spadina.

- H.C. Hocken, Cons. (1925-1930) continued
- S. Factor, Liberal (1930-1935)


Spadina evolved from a narrow strip of the city surrounding Spadina Road, to a much wider riding by the time it was abolished in 1988.

From 1935 to 1968, the riding was a narrow strip. Its southern base at the lakefront ran from John Street in the east to Bathurst Street in the west. The riding extended northward to the then-city limits. Its eastern border followed John Street to Queen Street to Beverly Street to College Street to St. George Street to Dupont Street to Davenport Road. Its western border followed Bathurst to Dundas Street to Grace Street to Bloor Street to Christie Street to St. Clair Avenue to Humewood Drive.

In the 1966 redistribution, the riding was transformed from a narrow strip to a more compact riding, extending only as far as Bloor on the north, Yonge Street on the east, and a line following Grace Street to College Street to Dovercourt Road on the west. In 1976, the riding's northern boundary was moved up to the CPR, while the western border was moved to follow Grace Street/Gorevale Avenue as far south as Queen Street then along Queen to Niagara Street to Bathurst Street.

- S. Factor, Liberal (1935-1945) continued
- D.A. Croll, Liberal (1945-1955)
- C.E. Rea, Prog. Cons. (1955-1962)
- S.P. Ryan, Liberal (1962-1969), Ind. (1969-1970), Prog. Cons. (1970-1972)
- P.A. Stollery, Liberal (1972-1981)
- D.J.M. Heap, N.D.P. (1981-1988)


In 1988, the neighbouring riding of Trinity was split in two, with part of the riding being added to Davenport, and part being added to Spadina, forming the riding of "Trinity—Spadina"

From 1988 to 1997, Trinity—Spadina ran from Avenue Road / University Avenue in the east to a line following Ossington Avenue, Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road in the west. It ran from the lakefront in the south to the CPR in the north. In 1997, the boundary was altered slightly in the northwest, following Dovercourt all the way to the CPR. The riding adopted its current borders in 2004.

- D.J.M. Heap, N.D.P. (1988-1993) continued
- A. Ianno, Liberal (1993-2006)
- Ms. Olivia Chow, N.D.P. (2006-2014)


Following the redistribution which will come into effect in next year's election, Trinity—Spadina will be dissolved, and split into two new ridings: University—Rosedale and Spadina—Fort York. The area north of Dundas Street will become the new riding of Spadina—Fort York, the area south of Dundas and west of a line following Bay Street and Front Street will be transferred to the new riding of University—Rosedale while the area east of Bay Street and north of Front will join the existing riding of Toronto Centre.

In addition to the area of Trinity—Spadina north of Dundas becoming University—Rosedale, University—Rosedale will also add in the wealthy neighbourhoods of Rosedale and Moore Park from Toronto Centre into the riding. Spadina—Fort York will add the part of Toronto Centre south of The Esplanade / Mill Street. Since both new ridings have a majority of their territory coming from Trinity—Spadina, both new ridings would have been won by the NDP in 2011 with the redistributed numbers. However, both seats are weaker ridings for the NDP. The NDP won 44% of the vote in University—Rosedale (compared to 31% for the Liberals) while the NDP won 50% of the vote in Spadina—Fort York to the Liberal's 24%. Both new ridings will contain wealthy neighbourhoods which could hurt the NDP's chances in either riding.

Political geography

Results of the 2011 federal election by polling division

In the 2011 election, Olivia Chow won almost every polling division in the riding. She also won every single neighbourhood. Her best neighbourhood was the NDP stronghold of Toronto Islands where she won a massive 85% of the vote. However, Toronto Islands only represents one polling division. The next best neighbourhood for Chow was Kensington Market, where she won two thirds of the vote (67%). Chow's worst neighbourhood was the Entertainment District, where she won 41% of the vote (still enough to “win” it). The Entertainment District is quickly being transformed by a number of condominiums which are less favourable to the NDP. For the Liberals, their strongest neighbourhood in 2011 was the affluent and trendy The Annex neighbourhood, where they were able to win three polls and 26% of the vote. For the Tories, their strongest neighbourhood was the Harbourfront, where they won 30% of the vote. Harbourfront – much like the Entertainment District – is full of brand new condos, which attract a wealthier, less NDP-friendly crowd.

In other recent elections, the Liberals have tended to do well in the southern part of the riding (south of Queen Street and east of University Avenue – where most of the riding's condos are. The Liberals are also historically strong in the eastern half of The Annex and in Little Italy. Meanwhile, the NDP strength in the riding has tended to be the north central area: Seaton Village, Harbord Village, Palmerston and the western part of The Annex (in addition to the Toronto Islands).

In the provincial election held just two weeks ago, the riding saw a huge swing away from the NDP – which had held the riding – to the Liberals, who had picked it up for the first time since 1987. The political geography of the riding saw a major shift in the provincial election. Toronto Islands was still the best area for the NDP, but on top of that, the NDP only won three other neighbourhoods: Christie Pits, and Bickford Park in the northwest of the riding and Bathurst Quay, which is the area across from Toronto Islands. Both Christie Pits and Bickford Park were Liberal neighbourhoods in the past, so the fact that the two areas were one of the few parts of the riding to go NDP is an interesting development. For the Liberals, their strongest area was the Harbourfront, and also The Annex. Even the western half of The Annex saw strong numbers for the Liberals, signifying that the whole neighbourhood is quickly trending Liberal (most likely due to rapid gentrification). (Note: a thank you to “King of Kensington” at the U.S. Election Atlas Forum for compiling the provincial neighbourhood results).

2011 federal election results by neighbourhood

Strongest polls (2011, federal):

NDP: Poll #181 (85%) - This poll covers the entirety of the Toronto Islands. One of the few ways to get to the Islands is by going to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. Quite fitting for the neighbourhood, which is also a designated car-free zone.
Liberals: Poll #477 (42%) - This poll corresponds to the “One Bedford at Bloor” Condominium (1 Bedford Rd) in the Annex. This is a brand new condo at the corner of Bedford Rd and Bloor. It advertises itself as an “architectural marvel and truly an address of distinction”.
Conservatives: Poll #401 (59%) - This poll corresponds to the Prince Arthur Condominiums at 38 Avenue Road in The Annex. These condos are advertised as “Condominium Mansions” and “Toronto's haute-est address”. One can only imagine how wealthy the people who live this “architectural icon”.

Weakest polls (2011, federal):

NDP: Poll #401 (8%) - Not too many NDP supporters at the wealthy Prince Arthur Condos.
Liberals: Poll #181 (3%) - The shear strength of the NDP on the Toronto Islands factors into why the Liberals did so poorly there.
Conservatives: Poll #54-1 (0%) - This poll covers a few students residences at the University of Toronto. There were only 19 voters, but not a single one of them voted Conservative.

Two party (NDP vs. Liberal) swing (2008-2011) by polling division

2008-2011 swing

The 2011 election saw a massive swing towards the NDP from the Liberals, measuring at 13%. This was a huge shift, compared to most federal elections in the 2000s that saw a very polarized electorate in the riding, with small single-digit swings from election to election. This swing is contrary to how the riding is trending provincially. Every election since 1999 has seen a swing to the Liberals from the NDP, until the Liberals finally won it in 2014. Without the popular Olivia Chow on the ballot, this trend could be duplicated in the federal riding as well.

We can see from the swing map, that almost the entire riding swung to the NDP from the Liberals in the 2011 federal election. Only a few isolated polls (mostly condos) saw pro-Liberal swings. However, the Annex saw a weaker pro-NDP swing than most of the riding, an indicator of its rapid gentrification.


Looking to continue the NDP's legacy in the riding is their candidate, Joe Cressy. Cressy is an activist who just served as senior advisor at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, involving fighting AIDS in Africa. Cressy looked poised to keep the riding orange until the Liberals announced the surprise candidacy of popular left wing city councillor Adam Vaughan. Adam Vaughan, who has been an outspoken critic of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, represents Ward 20 on city council, a ward that had previously been represented by Olivia Chow (ward 20 covers the eastern half of Trinity—Spadina – or the “Spadina” portion – if you will). The Conservatives are running Benjamin Sharma, a Conservative activist of Korean and Nepealese descent. The Greens are running Camille Labchuk, the daughter of former PEI Green Party leader Sharon Labchuck. The younger Labhcuk is a lawyer who previously ran for the Greens in the riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe in 2006.

If polls are to be believed, then it looks like this race is Adam Vaughan's to lose. The most recent poll of the riding conducted by Forum Research in May showed Vaughan had a 54%-31% lead over Cressy. Sharma was at 13%, and the Green party candidate was at 2%. The result would be a huge blow for the NDP, but would be on par with the huge swing seen in the riding in the provincial election. The candidacy of Adam Vaughan was a huge coup for the Liberals though, who probably would not be able to win the seat without him. In the provincial election, the Liberals won the seat with a 46%-31% margin with a lesser-known candidate (Han Dong). If the Forum poll it to be believed, it appears the NDP has a floor of about 31%, and that Vaughan's popularity is worth about 8% more than Dong. This seems to be an accurate assertion – in my opinion – so there is no reason for me to not believe the poll. However, the poll was conducted before the provincial election campaign, and a lot could have changed until now. All things considered – given the result of the provincial election and the candidacy of Adam Vaughan – I do not believe the NDP can win the by-election.

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