Scarborough Southwest Race
October 14, 2008
Michelle Simson, Liberal party candidate for Scarborough Southwest, saw her first win on Tuesday as she was elected as the first woman MP for the riding. Simson, 55, was appointed to run in the riding by party leader Stéphane Dion, replacing outgoing Liberal MP Tom Wappel who represented the riding for 20 years. Simson has worked with the party for many years as a volunteer, and was president of the Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission from 2004 to 2007.
Historically the riding is a Liberal lock. Simson, this time, earned 41 per cent of the vote, but the race in the riding was not without controversies.
At an all candidates’ debate at the Second Base Youth Shelter on October 8, not all candidates were present. The NDP candidate, Alamgir Hussain arrived 15 minutes late, walking in as Simson and Green party candidate Stefan Dixon were making their opening statements.
“I was not impressed by him walking in when he did,” said Brenda, a resident of the shelter who was in the audience that night, and preferred not to give her last name.
Hussain was not the only candidate late or absent during the debate. Conservative party candidate Greg Crompton was a no-show, and was actually at another debate that was
taking place at the Birchmount Community Centre. Although Crompton had notified organizers at the shelter about his absence, it prompted the Green’s Dixon to decide to leave, too. He informed the audience after 45 minutes that he would join Crompton at the other debate.
“I do not think it is fair for one candidate to be at a debate unopposed,” Dixon said.
Dixon’s declaration brought the debate to a stop.
“This debate was agreed to by all candidates, and you should not just walk out because you think you should be somewhere else, it is not right,” one of Simson’s staff shouted.
Dixon, under pressure by the organizers and the audience, did give in and stay, but both he, and Simson, who is a mother of one, did remark that Crompton’s absence and decision to attend the other debate showed his lack of support for youth in the riding who had organized the debate.
“You kids worked hard, and he should be here,” remarked Simson at one point.
Crompton was unavailable to comment, but his campaign manager Beverly Murphy said in an interview later, there was an explanation for her candidate’s absence.
“Unfortunately the campaigns for each candidate do not coordinate with each other when it comes to events like this,” Murphy said.
Crompton received three invitations to debates on that same day but had already committed to the debate at the Birchmount Community Centre while the other candidates were committed to the debate at Second Base.
Murphy also pointed out that Dixon and Hussain did eventually make it to the Birchmount Community Centre that night, but Simson did not.