Liberals look to hold Spadina—Fork York after Vaughan’s retirement –

May.21176 Liberal MP Adam Vaugham, pictured in May 2015, was the parliamentary secretary for housing in a riding with sky-high house prices. (Matthew Usherwood/iPolitics)

The Liberals will try to hold on to Spadina—Fort York in downtown Toronto after former Liberal MP Adam Vaughan stepped away from federal politics in early August.

Kevin Vuong, Vaughan’s successor as the riding’s Liberal candidate, is in good shape, according to a recent poll by Mainstreet Research.

The poll suggests that 51 per cent of decided and leaning voters would cast a ballot for the Liberals if an election were held today. The Conservatives, who’ve yet to nominate or acclaim a candidate, have 20 per cent support. The NDP have 14 per cent, led by candidate Norm Di Pasquale, a Toronto Catholic School Board trustee and consultant at CRM Dynamics, a Toronto-area client-management software company.

The Green party and People’s party are both in single digits, at six and four per cent, respectively.

The 574-person poll was conducted on Aug. 14 and 15 online and via telephone interviews. The poll used non-probability sampling, so a true margin of error can’t be calculated.

The margin of error for a probability sample of this size, however, would be +/-4.1 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

Vaughan was first elected in a 2014 byelection in Trinity—Spadina after former NDP MP Olivia Chow stepped down to run in the Toronto mayoral contest. Vaughan was a Toronto city councillor from 2006 to 2014, and worked as a journalist for various outlets before jumping to partisan politics.

Vaughan’s byelection — which he won by nearly 20 points over NDP candidate Joe Cressy — was the last time Trinity—Spadina was contested because of redistribution in 2015. Spadina—Fork York is mostly made up of Trinity—Spadina, plus some territory from Toronto Centre.

Chow returned to the federal scene in 2015 as the NDP’s candidate in the riding, but lost to Vaughan by nearly 30 points. The latter had a similarly strong showing in the 2019 election, beating NDP runner-up Diana Yoon by 35 points. In both general elections, he won about 55 per cent of the total vote.

After the 2015 election, Vaughan served as parliamentary secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In 2017, he switched files and became parliamentary secretary to former minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos. Vaughan stayed on in the role once Ahmed Hussen took over from Duclos after the 2019 election, but Vaughan was mainly responsible for housing policy.

Spadina—Fort York in downtown Toronto has some of the most expensive house prices in the country. The riding also has many parks — such as Trinity Bellwoods — in which homeless encampments set up in recent years were taken down by Toronto police, who clashed with protestors.

Vuong is the chief operating officer at Delphic Research, a Toronto information-technology company that serves government-relations firms. He also lectures on financial markets at Western University, and appears on CFRB 1010AM, a local radio station.

He serves in the Royal Canadian Navy, and is currently on leave as a public affairs officer. He previously served as a naval-intelligence officer aboard HMCS York.

He ran for Toronto city council in the Spadina—Fort York municipal riding in 2018, but Cressy “pressured” him to drop out of the race, Vuong told the Toronto Sun.

Di Pasquale has been a school trustee since 2018, and has advocated that Pride flags be flown at Catholic schools. He was also involved in the NoJetsTO campaign that opposed the expansion of Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport. He’s had various jobs in IT since graduating from George Brown College in 2003.

In an email to supporters, he said his top concerns are housing affordability and climate change.

This story was copy-edited after publication.