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Thornhill bucks trend to go Tory

PCs back on top in riding as Shurman edges Liberal Racco

Rookie PC candidate Peter Shurman benefited from the fickle nature of the riding’s electorate, beating Liberal incumbent Mario Racco by 1,700 votes in Wednesday’s election — a landslide by Thornhill standards.

Four years ago, the voters of Thornhill ousted their incumbent MPP in a close race.

In 1999, four years before that, the voters of Thornhill dumped their incumbent MPP in another airtight race.

Shurman arrived at Bayview Golf and Country Club just past 10 p.m., a little over an hour after the polls closed. During that first tense hour, campaign staffers were on cell phones and BlackBerrys, frantically trying to keep track of the seesaw poll numbers as they came in.

As midnight approached, several television networks were declaring a Shurman victory. Shurman himself, however, was cautious, preferring to wait before accepting what the pundits had all already agreed on.

When he did speak, he said his win was due in large measure to the faith-based education funding issue, one that he pledged to pursue in spite of his party’s defeat.

“There are more private faith-based schools in Thornhill, as far as I know, than any other riding in the province,” Shurman told reporters. “It’s obviously not the system that we proposed that’ll get put in place.

“But down the road, this door has been opened, this Pandora’s box is ajar,” he added. “We have to look at a way to level the playing field. There are not some Ontarians that are more equal than others.”

The issue helped him win his riding, but it “came back to bite us in the butt” provincially, he said.

At press time, the Liberals had won or were leading in 70 seats and were well within majority territory. The Progressive Conservative Party was ahead in 26 ridings and the NDP led in 11.

Shurman won the relatively close race by convincing skeptical voters at the door, said fellow broadcast veteran Peter Kent, who added he’d be a “terrific representative for Thornhill at Queen’s Park”.

“On the last night of the campaign, we were out door knocking,” Kent said. “A fellow said he’d never voted in his life, he’s 40 years old and his wife did the voting in the family.

“Peter invested 10 minutes with him and by the time the conversation was over, he had agreed to accompany his wife (to vote). Those are the sorts of votes that I think Peter turned on the doorstops across Thornhill.”

The race in Thornhill featured some intense mudslinging between the two leading camps.

The Shurman campaign went as far as taking the City of Vaughan to court over a campaign sign bylaw which it claimed was unconstitutional, tying the controversy to Racco through his wife, Ward 4 Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco.

New Democratic candidate Sandra Parrott finished third behind Shurman with 5.5 percent of the vote. Green candidate Lloyd Helferty received 2,500 votes, good for 5.2 percent.

The Family Coalition’s Nathan Kidd, Freedom Party candidate Lindsay King and independent Malcolm Kojokaro combined for the remaining one percent.

Vaughan Today
Friday, October 12, 2007
Page: 1
Byline: Philip Alves