A win for Fantino or the Conservatives or both?

30 Nov
Julian Fantino wins Vaughan

Julian Fantino wins Vaughan

By Shawn Star

 

It was a story of David versus Goliath – but who won?

Did the underdog David Conservatives knock off the 20-year reigning Goliath Liberals? Or did the Goliath, Julian Fantino, knock off the David, Tony Genco?

The story through much of the campaign was that it was expected to be a close race in the Liberal stronghold, but only because the Conservatives had fielded a noteworthy local candidate in former Ontario top cop Julian Fantino.

The results trickled in for hours on election night, and while Genco led after the first 10 polls or so, Fantino nabbed the lead, and never looked back. While Genco staged comebacks here and there, often getting within 400 votes, he never could overtake Fantino again, eventually losing by a mere 997 votes, or 2.5 percent.

Throwing a cog in the wheel of the debate over whether the win was for Fantino or for the Conservatives, he failed to mention the Conservative Party in the “thank you” portion at the beginning of his seven-minute victory speech.

Julian Fantino speaks to reporters and supporters

 

 

It wasn’t until past the five-minute point that he mentioned the party, and even then, made no acknowledgement of any involvement in his campaign, only thanking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his support.

“I look forward to being a member of an energized and growing Conservative team,” he said. “I am proud to be a Conservative – the party of all Canadians – young and old, east and west, north and south, you and me.”

The other mention Fantino made was saying he believed in the party’s ability to build a stronger Canada, and to “reject the fear-mongering and risky Michael Ignatieff coalition.”

Though he received much applause and accolades for his victory, some attendees at Fantino’s post-election party thought it was just that – Fantino’s victory, and not the Conservatives’.

A Rival’s Support

One of those was rival candidate and sixth place finisher (112 votes) Dorian Baxter, who founded and was running for the Progressive Canadian Party.

“I’m really rooting for (Fantino) tonight. It doesn’t mean I’m in favour of the party, but I’m rooting for the man, I think he’s the man for the job,” Baxter said before the race had officially been called in Fantino’s favour. “One of my purposes in running for this election was to seek to divide the conservative vote to let the Liberals in.”

Baxter doesn’t believe the Conservative Party of today holds true to the original policies of Sir John A. Macdonald and his PC brand, which is what he says the Progressive Canadian Party does.

But he said his view shifted after what he called an unfair bias against Fantino at a debate that the former police chief said he couldn’t attend due to a memorial mass for his father-in-law.

“To my shock and horror (the moderator’s bias) was such a dirty misrepresentation of Mr. Fantino that I found myself getting on my feet to support him,” he said, adding that he thought Fantino ran a more honourable campaign than Genco. “(Fantino) never allowed himself to be dragged down to the level of Mr. Genco, who was equally as guilty (as the debate moderator) of bad-mouthing Julian Fantino on the radio. I heard it, and I defended him…so I’m here and I hope to be able to shake his hand.”

While Baxter doesn’t live in Vaughan, he said he likely would have voted for himself if he could. However if the race was close enough, he would definitely have given it to Fantino in order to defeat Genco.

In the less political portion of Fantino’s speech, he spoke of his experiences since being in this country, and described his life as “a truly Canadian story.”

“A young immigrant boy comes to this country,” he started, mentioning that he arrived in Canada’s centennial year, 1967. “He becomes police chief, a grandfather along the way, then runs for political office to serve his country – and wins.”

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