Jewish candidates: who won and who lost?

Michael Levitt


There were three Jewish MPs before the Oct. 19 federal election, but by the end of the next day, there were six, all of them Liberal and all of them new to the House of Commons.

Canada’s first-ever Jewish finance minister, Joe Oliver, was defeated in his Toronto riding, as was Tory MP Mark Adler, while Irwin Cotler didn’t seek re-election in Mount Royal.

Beating Adler in York Centre was Liberal Michael Levitt, while Cote St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather bested Tory Robert Libman in Mount Royal, Liberal Jim Carr prevailed over Conservative MP Joyce Bateman in Winnipeg South Centre, Karina Gould in Burlington, Julie Dabrusin in Toronto-Danforth and in Quebec’s Laurentides–Labelle riding, David Graham took the seat for the Liberals.

With 20,282 votes (32 per cent), Graham defeated Bloc Québécois candidate Johanne Régimbald (18,807, 30 per cent) and NDPer Simon-Pierre Landry (16,624, 26 per cent).

NDP MP Marc-André Morin had held the riding since 2011, but he lost the nomination to Landry.

“I very much appreciate the support of the voters of the riding where I grew up,” Graham told The CJN.

“I worked very hard, knocking on thousands of doors and attending hundreds of events across the riding, which, at 19,634 square kilometres is almost identical in territory to Israel [20,770 square kilometeres]. I believe the Laurentians were ready for a real change, and I am proud to be delivering it for my community.”

It was first time running for political office for Graham, whose is Jewish from his mother’s side. His grandparents were Beno Eskenazi, a Sephardi immigrant from Istanbul and a successful Montreal civil engineer, and Goldie Wolofsky, granddaughter of Kanader Adler newspaper founder Hirsch Wolofsky. His father’s family is a mix of Catholic and Protestant.

Meanwhile, in an upset, Julie Dabrusin beat NDP incumbent Craig Scott in former NDP leader Jack Layton’s riding of Toronto-Danforth by a 1,200-vote margin.

Oliver lost the hotly contested riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, which he’d held since 2011, when he beat incumbent Liberal cabinet minister Joe Volpe. Jews comprise just under a quarter of the riding.

With 39 per cent of the votes, Oliver was defeated by Liberal candidate and lawyer Marco Mendicino, who won 50 per cent.

They were trailed by former Saskatchewan NDP finance minister Andrew Thomson, who garnered six per cent.

In Toronto’s York Centre, where three Jews went head to head as the top contenders, Levitt won the historically Liberal riding back for his party, beating the incumbent Adler, who served one term and garnered attention during the election campaign for (falsely) claiming in some of his campaign signage to be the first-ever MP who was the child of a Holocaust survivor.

The race was close, with Levitt grabbing 47 per cent of the vote and Adler getting 44 per cent. Palliative care doctor Hal Berman came in third for the NDP, with seven per cent.

In Montreal’s high-profile Mount Royal, a Liberal riding for 75 years that the Tories had hoped to capture after whittling away at Cotler’s margin of victory over the past two elections, Housefather won handily with about 50 per cent of the vote, to Libman’s 38 per cent.

In Burlington, Gould, 28, beat three-term Conservative MP Mike Wallace, garnering 32,228 votes (46 per cent) to his 29,778 (42.5 per cent).

In Toronto-St. Paul’s, which is also home to many Jews, longtime Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett won by a landslide, followed by Conservative Marnie MacDougall. First-time candidate Noah Richler, son of famous Jewish novelist Mordecai Richler, came third for the NDP.

In Thornhill, NDP candidate Lorne Cherry lost to incumbent Tory MP Peter Kent, who held onto the riding easily.

Out west, in British Columbia, first-time NDP candidate Mira Oreck, formerly Pacific region director of Canadian Jewish Congress and current director of public engagement at the Broadbent Institute, was defeated in the newly created riding of Vancouver-Granville.

Despite the fact Leadnow, a group advocating for strategic voting among Liberal and NDP supporters, endorsed Oreck, she came in third with 10,394 votes, losing to Liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould, former regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and trailing Conservative Erinn Broshko, a corporate lawyer and businessman.

As was expected, NDP leader Tom Mulcair beat out Liberal candidate and lawyer Rachel Bendayan in the Montreal riding of Outrement, but the race was surprisingly close, with Bendayan getting 34 per cent of the votes to Mulcair’s 44 per cent.

Also not surprisingly, Green Party candidate Frances Litman, who ran in the new Vancouver Island riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, came third, with the riding taken by the NDP’s Randall Garrison.

In West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Green candidate Ken Melamed came in fourth place. The riding, which went Conservative after John Weston nabbed it in 2008, was won this time around by Liberal candidate and former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.

In Alberta, former MLA, city councillor and 2013 mayoral candidate Karen Leibovici lost for the Liberals in the re-formed riding of Edmonton West, which historically had gone back and forth between the Liberals and the Tories, and was last held by former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan in 2004. It was won Oct. 19 by Conservative Kelly McCauley.

In Winnipeg South Centre, Liberal Carr, a former newspaper columnist and president of the Manitoba Business Council, as well as a vocal supporter of Israel, defeated Conservative incumbent Bateman.

In Ontario, Conservative Yonatan Rozenszajn, a 31-year-old lawyer who immigrated to Canada from Israel in 1999, came a distant third in Hamilton Centre, with close to 6,000 votes. The riding was won by incumbent and former provincial cabinet minister David Christopherson for the NDP. Liberal Anne Tennier came second, with close to 14,000 votes.

NDP candidate and Hamilton-Wentworth School Board trustee Alex Johnstone, who proclaimed ignorance about the concentration camp Auschwitz when a satirical website uncovered a 2008 Facebook post of hers in which she joked that fencepost in a picture from the death camp looked like a penis, came third in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. The riding was won by Liberal Filomena Tassi.

In downtown Toronto’s Davenport riding, Green candidate Dan Stein came in fourth place. The real surprise there was Liberal Julie Dzerowicz beating NDP incumbent Andrew Cash.