The Liberals have made huge gains across much of the 905 region, knocking out high-profile cabinet ministers en route to a majority win in Canada’s 42nd federal election.
The party, led by Justin Trudeau, won 24 out of the 29 seats in the cities that surround Toronto, including a sweep of all 11 ridings in Brampton and Mississauga.
The Conservatives took five seats in the 905 region. In 2011, the Tories won every seat in the GTA outside Toronto on the road to a majority victory.
In Brampton Centre, incumbent Minister of State for Sport Bal Gosal lost to Liberal challenger Ramesh Sangha despite claiming last week that the Conservatives were “ready to take” the riding. With all polls reporting, Sangha captured nearly 49 per cent of the vote, compared to Gosal at nearly 34 per cent.
Shortly after the candidate’s boast about a looming victory, two volunteers left Gosal’s campaign after Sangha accused Conservative volunteers of destroying Liberal campaign signs. A Liberal campaign volunteer captured footage showing two figures dressed in dark clothing kicking down an election sign at the side of the road last Tuesday night.
The Liberals filed complaints with both Peel Regional Police and Elections Canada.
Incumbent Bal Gosal could not hang on to his seat, despite expressing confidence just days before the election that the Conservatives were “ready to take” Brampton Centre.
Late Monday, Gosal echoed the sentiments of other defeated Conservatives, telling CBC News that Canadians “wanted a change.
“They decided to go with high taxes and big spending. That’s what happened and it is how politics works.”
Asked about the sign controversy, Gosal said his campaign apologized and the volunteers left his team.
“We ran a very clean campaign, and I wouldn’t do anything different,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Brampton North, Parm Gill, parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, fell to Liberal candidate Ruby Sahota, who grabbed more than 48 per cent of the vote. Gill trailed with 33 per cent of the vote.
And in Mississauga East-Cooksville, Liberal Peter Fonseca took back his old riding from Wladyslaw Lizon, who narrowly defeated Fonseca in 2011.
“I think the people really were looking for some real change,” Fonseca told CBC News late Monday. “They want help, they want opportunity.”
Harjot Ghuman Matharu, producer and host of Fulkari radio on CJMR, said Tuesday that the Liberal success in Brampton can be attributed in part to the party’s efforts to rebuild a relationship with the Punjabi and Sikh communities that was once strong under former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
“I think that’s the reason they got the vote. I think that’s what happened in these past years, as we’ve seen the Liberal Party rebuild the relationship with the community,” Matharu told CBC’s Metro Morning.
“The strengthening of bonds that they once lost to the Conservatives here in Brampton that came back through a lot of building over the past few years.”
Change ‘for the sake of change’
In other parts of the 905, two high-profile cabinet ministers fell to Liberal candidates. In Ajax, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander lost to Liberal Mark Holland, who was elected in 2008 when the riding was Ajax-Pickering. After the vote, Alexander spoke about his loss.
“I think it was change, really, for the sake of change, for having a new team taking on the job of governing this country,” he said. “And I think it was also the fact that after three mandates, Canadians tend to take a harder look at incumbents.”
Meanwhile, up in Vaughan-Woodbridge, Liberal Francesco Sorbara beat Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino by nearly 2,000 votes.
“I respect the decision that the electorate has made,” Fantino said as he left a post-election party.
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Conservative fortunes were better in Thornhill, where Conservative Peter Kent become the first candidate in the 905 to be re-elected. Tory Lisa Raitt also bucked the Liberal trend and won re-election in Milton. In Durham, Conservative Erin O’Toole retained his seat.
The only other ridings in the 905 that escaped the red tide were Markham-Unionville and Oshawa, with both won by the Conservatives.