Tag Archives: Tony Genco

Genco better than PC party

22 Aug

I have come to like Tony Genco, the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Oct. 6 provincial election. I like his spunk, his tenacity, his ability to withstand the howling winds of change, and also the howling voices of detractors, while pressing on to do what it is he feels he needs to do.

No matter that he willingly stepped out into the storm that now assails him as he trudges purposefully across the Vaughan political landscape. At least he trudges with purpose. He has appointed himself well in recent interviews, has shown himself capable of the wider view and has exhibited a political intelligence for which he does not often get credit. And his will to win far surpasses that demonstrated by the exclusive, reclusive and elusive local political entity to which he has hitched his wagon.

In fact, were it not for the outrageously media-unsavvy Conservative association around him, I might be inclined to suggest he is capable of stealing some of the spotlight from Liberal incumbent Greg Sorbara in the campaign that has just now begun to unfold.

A full cast of colourful characters have burst out of the gate, full of bravado all, as they prepare to mount a challenge to the giant that is Sorbara. All have fought on other fields — Genco ran federally as a Liberal, the NDP’s Paul Donofrio and the Reform Party of Ontario’s David Natale have run municipally — and are now ready for their first taste of victory. All will draw some media attention simply because they are interesting characters, but it will take more than in-passing notation to outshine Sorbara The Quotable.

As though finding a way to outmaneuver Sorbara The Deliverer, Sorbara The Accomplished and Sorbara The Entrenched were any small feat.

Genco has a profile, but there’s nothing coming his way in the line of support beyond what he manufactures himself. Successful political parties have systems in place, layers deep, to ensure that their messaging is both well crafted and well distributed. The Liberal party wrote the book on that; the Conservatives apparently failed to read it.

Vaughan Today, for some odd reason, doesn’t seem to stay on local Conservative contact lists very long. Which probably explains why it takes a certain resolute impoliteness on our part to gain entry to most of their important events.

We found ourselves shut out of the Ontario PC party GTA fundraiser in Vaughan last week too. We had to resort to other means to listen in as premier-hopeful Tim Hudak trumpeted the party’s [changebook] platform in his 20-minute speech. I still marvel at how it never occurred to him to use the occasion and locale to put in a word for Vaughan candidate Genco.

This disconnect with local organizers was reminiscent of the Julian Fantino federal campaign in May, where Vaughan Today had to practically beat down the door to be included in Conservative events such as a Prime Minister Stephen Harper visit (which we almost always found out about from other sources). We elected not to beat down the door for the Hudak event, lest we exhibit bad form and perhaps barge in right in the middle of … oh … Richmond Hill candidate Vic Gupta’s address. (Guess the braintrust figured that, this being the Weston Road and Highway 7 area, they should “localize” things — with York Region representation.)

Ideology aside, what Genco lost when he left the Liberal party is access to a credible political vehicle to deliver him and his message to the people. The loss makes him the contemporary of Donofrio and Natale — not of Sorbara — in this race. Only Sorbara has the luxury of strong party presence to draw on. Genco might be better off following his own maverick spirit than conforming to the “strategy” of a group that behaves as though it does not recognize the need to sell its message.

— Dan Hoddinott


No surprise Vaughan wasn’t a landslide, Justin Trudeau says

21 Dec

MP Justin Trudeau says Vaughan’s byelection wasn’t a landslide like many pundits predicted because newly elected Conservative MP Julian Fantino shied away from talking about issues.

Speaking to an editorial board at the offices of Vaughan Today and its sister publications, Trudeau said Fantino nearly lost Vaughan because he spent no time talking to media, voters and the public about issues.

“If he’d done that more, maybe it would have been a landslide, or perhaps he actually wouldn’t have won,” Trudeau said. “Because we’ve seen the issues and concerns and debates he has with respect to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms isn’t necessarily in keeping with a member of parliament who’s there to uphold the Canadian constitution.”

Fantino was accused of running a “peek-a-boo” campaign in the lead up to the by-election, in particular because he didn’t attend a candidate’s debate.

Fantino told Vaughan Today this week he worked hard for the win. He said, with the long-time Liberal rule in Vaughan, he never thought “it would be a cakewalk”.

“The numbers albeit that separated the win may not have been that great in the eyes of some people, but we overcame a huge, huge obstacle to win in the end,” Fantino said. “I didn’t expect the campaign itself to be such a drag, in the point of view of the attacks, and the misinformation and the posturing. That kind of amazed me a bit. But we didn’t dwell on it. I did what I had to do. I spent my time, from very early in the morning to very late and night, meeting widely with people – I didn’t create a fanfare over it, I didn’t challenge my opponents to do the same or to anything. Being portrayed as I was just challenged me to work harder.”

Trudeau seemed to offer some advice for Fantino:

“A member of parliament doesn’t just represent the people who voted for him,” Trudeau said. “They represent everyone in their riding. You are a voice now for the entire riding of Vaughan, Mr. Fantino.”

He said Fantino is in a “learning process as a politician”.

“And I know he’s going to learn to temper his words and be a better representative for everyone in Vaughan, at least I hope he does, as he advances in his short time as a representative for Vaughan until the next election.”

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.”

Tony Genco releases statement on loss

30 Nov

Statement released by Genco campaign this morning:

VAUGHAN – After a hard-fought campaign and a long night of watching results come in, I want to sincerely congratulate Julian Fantino on his victory. I want to thank my campaign team and supporters, as well as everyone who supported us on the Liberal team. I am proud of the ideas we put forward for the people of Vaughan and together we will continue to work to build our community and our country.

Red no more: Liberal rule ends in Vaughan

30 Nov
Tony Genco

Tony Genco addresses supporters at his election night party.

By Joshua Freeman

Two decades of Liberal rule came to an end in Vaughan tonight as voters handed over the riding to Conservative candidate Julian Fantino in a cliff-hanger by-election.

With all polls reporting, Elections Canada’s website showed Fantino with 49.1 percent of the vote, while Liberal Tony Genco, the former CEO of Downsview Park, came in at 46.1 percent.

Although the Conservatives won in the end, the result had been unclear throughout the evening, with neither party officially conceding or declaring victory until after 1 am.

The polls were so close in fact, that Genco has still not yet officially conceded the loss.  He appeared only briefly at his campaign party. Arriving close to 11 pm, Genco spent 40 minutes behind closed doors with his team before speaking briefly to the waiting crowd.

Tony Genco

Tony Genco greets supporters

“This race is too close to call,” Genco said. “I’m indebted to all of you for making this a very tight race and we’ll know for sure what the voice of the people will be.”

Visibly upset, he thanked family and supporters before handlers whisked him to a waiting car and told reporters he’d be unavailable for the rest of the night. Liberal staffers explained Genco was run down and had a hoarse throat from campaigning.

That left Liberal MP’s inside to do damage control. While Genco hadn’t officially conceded, they acknowledged a probable loss after he left.

“This is not a Conservative win, this is a Julian Fantino win,” said York West MP, Judy Sgro. “It ended up a popularity contest in this riding… we’ll win this riding back when there’s a general election.”

She pointed out that while some media outlets had predicted a Conservative landslide, Fantino “barely squeaked to a victory.”

Brampton-Springdale MP Ruby Dhalla also tried her best to put a happy face on the loss.

“I think the citizens of Vaughan have really paid tribute to the great work Mr. Fantino did as Police Commissioner,” said Dhalla. She also pointed to low voter turnout as a factor that might have hurt the Liberals. Unofficial results put voter turnout at 32.4 percent of registered voters. That compares to 52.3 percent voter turnout in the 2008 general election. “I’ve worked in by-elections before, but this was very quiet,” Dhalla said.

Despite his early departure, many supporters seemed unaware Genco had left and were surprised to learn he was no longer in the building.

“I think (Liberals) are going to be demoralized by this (loss),” said Mike Zichowski, a Liberal scrutineer. “To lose a big seat like this that’s been Liberal for so many years and now to swing Conservative.” Watching tired volunteers file out the doors, he added he now worries the stage might be set for the Harper Conservatives to pursue a majority government in the next general election.


The last numbers posted at the Liberals' election night party.

Despite the help of party strategists, PR people and high profile MP’s, such as Justin Trudeau, the Liberals were unable to hold on to the seat occupied for 22 years by Vaughan’s mayor-elect, Maurizio Bevilacqua.

Throughout the campaign, Genco tried to frame the decision for voters as a choice between the ‘Liberal brand’ and the Harper government, rather than a choice between himself and Fantino, a high profile candidate who enjoys strong popular support in the area. But the strategy proved unsuccessful against Fantino’s strong name recognition.

Genco’s future plans were not immediately clear. His campaign manager said he would not comment on the results of the election until every last vote had been counted.

But the bigger question may be what plans Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will make. Having lost a long-standing Liberal riding, he may now face comparisons to former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, whose loss of the Outremont by-election in 2007 signalled the beginning of the end of his leadership.

UPDATE: Narrow win for Fantino in Vaughan

30 Nov

The votes have been counted: Conservative Julian Fantino is Vaughan’s new MP.

In a long-awaited victory speech — Fantino didn’t arrive at his party at Famee Furlane til after 1 a.m., long after Liberal Tony Genco’s camp has packed up — the former OPP commissioner thanked Vaughan for voting him in.

Entering the party to a mob of photographers, reporters and staffers, Fantino was nearly knocked off his feet. The crowd erupted in cheers when he began to speak, and they got louder when he thanked Don Cherry, who endorsed him last week. Fantino spoke to the crowd in both English and Italian.

He assured the crowd he’d do his best for Vaughan, and said this election sent a message to Ottawa and beyond. (ed. note: more to come tomorrow from reporter Shawn Star, who was at the victory party).

Meanwhile, the mood at the Liberal Tony Genco campaign was sombre. Genco had arrived at Montecassino Place earlier in the night and addressed the crowd briefly, saying it wasn’t over until the last vote was counted. He left the building without speaking to reporters (ed. note: come back soon for a post from Joshua Freeman, who was at that party).



Election night: We’re live!

29 Nov

We’re live for election night! Check out www.vaughantoday.ca for breaking news and info. We’ll be be covering live from election night parties, as well as taking your tweets and comments. To join the conversation, just add #Vaughan or #byelxn40 to your tweets, or comment straight on our homepage.

Come join in the conversation!

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