By Jean Ko Din, Michael Duncan, Nuruddin Qorane and David Rockne Corrigan
Chrystia Freeland was greeted by a chorus of supporters chanting her name after she won the Toronto Centre byelection for the Liberal party Monday night.
Freeland defeated NDP candidate Linda McQuaig with a 13 percentage point lead in the polls and more than 3,000 more votes.
The Liberals took 49 per cent of the votes, while the NDP had 36 per cent. Conservative candidate Geoff Pollock received nine per cent and the Green Party’s John Deverell scored three per cent of the votes.
Voter turnout was 38 per cent with nearly 35,000 of the 91,612 registered electors in Toronto Centre coming out to vote.
The Liberals also snagged a win in Quebec, in Bourassa, one of three other ridings where byelections were held Monday.
The Conservative party won the two byelections in Brandon-Souris and Provencher, in Manitoba.
In Toronto Centre, supporters who attended the Liberals’ campaign party at Jack Astor’s near Yonge-Dundas Square remained in high spirits throughout the night, even as McQuaig gained a six percentage point lead earlier in the evening.
Liberal supporters cheered as their own internal polling numbers rose faster than Election Canada’s official voter count and predicted the win.
Freeland said she was delighted to have stayed focused on running a positive campaign in the midst of her opponent’s “negative personal attacks.”
She thanked former Liberal MP Bob Rae, who held the riding before stepping down last summer, and Bill Graham who held the riding from 1993 until 2007.
“I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of two giants,” said Freeland.
Meanwhile, there was still an optimistic mood in the air at McQuaig’s camp after it was revealed she lost to Freeland.
“The result wasn’t quite what we hoped for, but I think we put forward an incredible fight,” McQuaig said to supporters at the Hot House Cafe in downtown Toronto.
Still, she assured followers that the real fight has yet to come.
“We always knew this was a Liberal stronghold and that it would be an uphill battle, and it was and we fought on. The real point is what happens in 2015,” she said.
McQuaig said she hasn’t ruled out running for the NDP in the federal election in 2015 and she said she will always be involved with the NDP’s efforts.