Leslie Church campaigning for the Liberal Party with volunteers for upcoming by-election

A staggering 84 candidates on the Toronto ballot in this month’s federal by-election

Elections Canada has confirmed an unprecedented 84 candidates for the ongoing by-election in Toronto–St. Paul’s. To accommodate this unusually high number of candidates, there will be a two-column ballot, a first in the constituency’s electoral history.

The adjustment has raised concerns about accessibility, prompting Elections Canada to reassure voters that all regular accessibility tools will remain available. However, some tools, such as the braille list of candidates and voting templates, will only be accessible on election day.

The riding is a must-win for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada as polling continues to show the party sitting behind Conservative Party leader Piere Poilievre in the polls set for the fall of 2025.

Contesting the by-election for the Liberal Party is Leslie Church.

According to the Liberal Party, which announced the nomination on May 1, Church has dedicated her career to serving her community, advising governments, and collaborating with local organizations nationwide to advance initiatives such as $10-a-day child care, affordable housing, and healthcare waitlist reduction during her tenure as a senior advisor and Chief of Staff in the federal government. Church as the head of global communications and public affairs for Google Canada

“Toronto– St. Paul’s needs a local champion who understands the challenges and opportunities of our community and families,” said Church. “I am ready to work with the Liberal team to build more homes, strengthen public health care, and lower the cost of living – so everyone in our community has a fair chance to succeed.”

Contesting the by-election for the Conservative Party of Canada, headed up by Pierre Poilievre who is leading the federal polls over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by a wide margin, is Don Stewart.

Stewart and his two daughters have lived in St. Paul’s since 2016, with family roots in the area extending back over 100 years. Raised in Oshawa, Don earned degrees in Engineering and Business from Queen’s University. He began his career in a small business selling construction products and later worked at BMO and Morgan Stanley.

A glimpse at Stewart’s social media feed shows some well-known Conservative Party MPs out campaigning alongside the candidate, such as former leader Andrew Scheer.

Although long a Liberal Party bastion, perhaps the riding, especially with 84 candidates, will be more competitive than in previous years.

Another candidate who could get a long look from voters is the New Democratic Party’s Amrit Parhar.

Provincially, the riding has been held by NDP MPP Jill Andrew since 2018, so if change is afoot in Toronto St. Paul’s it could very well go further left as opposed to further right with the Conservative candidate.

Parhar, a director of programs for non-profit Institute for Change Leaders. According to her site, she has advocated for refugees, newcomer rights, early childhood educators, healthcare workers, youth, and those affected by gender-based violence. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Toronto Metropolitan University.

The Green Party of Canada candidate is Christian Cullis.

“Christian Cullis embodies the values and dedication of the Green Party,” said Leader Elizabeth May. “His unwavering commitment to sustainability and social justice makes him an exceptional candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s. I am confident that Christian will inspire and lead the way towards a greener future.”

Other political parties with candidates in the by-election include: People’s Party, Parti Rhinocéros Party, Marijuana Party, Centrist Party of Canada,  Marxist-Leninist Party. The rest of the 84 candidates are running as independents. 

According to Elections Canada, Canadian citizens, aged 18 and above on the day of the election, are eligible to cast their ballots under specific criteria. They must be residents of Toronto–St. Paul’s with their home addresses registered in the electoral district from May 20, 2024, until the election day, June 24, 2024. Additionally, individuals must be registered voters, with the majority already enlisted in the National Register of Electors.

Due to the large number of candidates, Elections Canada is warning that  the reporting and publishing of the by-election results may experience delays.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO