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Conservative MP Peter Kent, who has held the riding since 2008, will not be seeking re-election

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The most Jewish federal riding in Canada will be electing a new Member of Parliament, with candidates now vying for the nomination of the incumbent Conservative party.

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Peter Kent, the longtime federal Conservative Member of Parliament for Thornhill, recently announced that he will not be seeking re-election in the next federal election campaign. The exact timing of the next federal election is unknown. The Trudeau Liberals have a minority government, and the government needs the support of at least one of the NDP, Bloc Quebecois or Conservatives on matters of confidence (such as the Budget) in order to survive. Minority federal governments in Canada have generally lasted for 2 to 3 years at a time, with a few exceptions.  

Kent was first elected in Thornhill in 2008, after having spent several decades working as a journalist for a variety of media outlets including NBC, CBC and Global. He was comfortably re-elected in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 federal elections, earning over 50% of the popular vote in the riding each time.  Thornhill was first established as a federal riding for the 1997 federal election. From 1997 to 2004, the riding was held by former Liberal MP Elinor Caplan. Subsequently, from 2004 to 2008, the riding was held by former Liberal MP Susan Kadis. Kent has held the riding since defeating her in 2008.  He served as Environment Minister in Stephen Harper’s government from 2011 to 2013 and subsequently survived a cancer scare.

The riding’s boundaries were adjusted for the 2015 federal election as part of the redistribution process that involved a number of ridings across Canada. The riding encompasses the Thornhill community and holds parts of the City of Vaughan and the City of Markham in York Region. The borders are set at Steeles Avenue to the south, Bayview Avenue and Bathurst Street to the east, Rutherford Road to the north and Highway 400 to the west.

Thornhill riding has a population of 112,719 people and is 62.90 square kilometres wide according to the most recent census.

Who will carry the Conservative Party of Canada torch in Thornhill in the next federal election?  

Two candidates who are well known in Conservative circles have announced their candidacies to seek the federal Conservative nomination in Thornhill. The race is shaping up as a competitive one.

Gila Martow, the current Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Thornhill, is seeking the federal nomination. Martow, who was first elected as MPP for Thornhill in a by-election in February 2014, was re-elected in June 2014 by a narrow margin of 106 votes. She won re-election again in June 2018 with 61 percent of the vote. She has served in roles in the Doug Ford government including Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs.  Prior to entering political office, she was an optometrist.

Also seeking the Conservative nomination in Thornhill is Melissa Lantsman. Lantsman has extensive political experience provincially and federally. Her experience includes working as Director of Communications for former Minister of Finance Joe Oliver in Stephen Harper’s government, as well as serving as chief spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s successful 2018 election campaign. She is Vice President, National Public Affairs at Enterprise Canada, a strategic communications firm.

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Thornhill is one of many 905-area suburban ridings surrounding the City of Toronto that the Conservative Party needs to win in order to form government in the next election and is an ethnically diverse riding with a significant Jewish population.

According to Elections Canada’s website, Thornhill’s population is approximately 29.5% Jewish. Thornhill is also home to large Korean, Chinese, Iranian and Italian communities. Geographically, the riding is located immediately north of the City of Toronto, and the riding includes portions of both the City of Markham and the City of Vaughan. 

The riding is home to numerous synagogues and Jewish schools. The federal government’s foreign policy towards Israel is a major issue for Jewish voters in the riding. 

Local issues in the riding include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, as well as traffic/gridlock, the planned expansion of the Yonge subway line into Thornhill, and, in 2020, a significant problem involving coyote encounters, including a number of reported coyote attacks on pets and residents. 

This is the first article of a two-part series on the Conservative nomination race in Thornhill.  

Jonathan Mackenzie is a lawyer in Toronto. He has a B.A. in Political Science (with Distinction) from York University and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School. Jonathan previously served as a staff writer for Osgoode Hall’s Obiter Dicta Student Newspaper.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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