Although it was probably a foregone conclusion, former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Scarborough Southwest yesterday afternoon. Despite recent polls indicating that the Liberals are struggling in third place against a surging NDP, picking up Blair as a star candidate is still seen as a coup by the party, who optimistically is now caught in a three-way race with the Conservatives and the New Democrats.
“We’ve been reaching out to Liberals in Scarborough Southwest, now we have to reach out to all the people of Scarborough Southwest,” Blair told reporters after the vote. “I’m hoping I can be a strong voice for them.”
As a candidate, Blair has a lot of name cache from his years as chief. He was reported courted by all three major parties, but it was the Liberals that apparently struck his fancy for his political ambitions. “Frankly, Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals put forward values that I felt most closely aligned with,” said Blair when he announced his candidacy back in April.
Blair said the win was “pretty gratifying,” but his only major competition for the candidacy, former CTV anchor Tim Weber, took himself out of the running last month. Still, Blair comes with his fair share of controversy as a candidate, having served as Toronto’s police chief when the G20 protests there resulted in mass arrests, unlawful detainment, and police brutality. Of course, controversies around policing didn’t hurt Julian Fantino, who’s gone on to win two straight victories for the Conservatives in Vaughan.
In his nomination speech Blair said, “[H]aving spent my life in public service, and concluding that career, I sought to continue to serve. To continue to serve this community not only to make it a safe place, but a prosperous place, a place of inclusion, a place of respect.”
He sounds like a guy who’s already won. But while Scarborough-Southwest has been enjoyed as a Liberal victory through many recent elections, in 2011 it was taken by former IT technician Dan Harris for the NDP. If the NDP are surging enough to become the legitimate heir apparent to the Conservatives, can the star-power of Blair work enough for the Liberals in this one riding? I guess we’ll find out.