Han Dong, the former MPP for Trinity Spadina won the Liberal party nomination for the Don Valley North riding after a red-hot competitive race on Thursday night, beating rival Banggu Jiang, a female lawyer.
It was an incredibly tight race, with Dong wining by a marginal victory of just 14 votes, according to multiple sources of Chinese News.
The riding's Liberal MP Geng Tan announced in May that he is not seeking re-election. A contesting nomination battle has been unfolding in this riding concentrated with Chinese Canadians, putting three candidates of Chinese origin under the spotlight. Ms. Banggu Jiang and Han Dong both have gotten the greenlight to seek nomination, while Laura Huang was rejected as a potential candidate by the Liberal Party of Canada.
投票当晚场景煞是壮观。提名赛在位于Victoria Park and 401的亚美尼亚社区中心（Armenian Community Centre）举行。穿梭巴士每隔30分钟将投票者送往此地。大批学生志愿者在投票中心外积极为两位参选者拉选票，不停地向前来投票者发送候选人传单，信息手册和徽章。印有董和江名字和头像的选举牌和标志犹如波涛汹涌，遍布选举大楼外围场地。
Shuttle busses brought in Liberal party members from the riding to Armenian Community Centre building at Victoria Park and 401, where the nomination meeting was held. Student volunteers swamped the building, helping court voters for the candidates. Campaign signs with the name and pictures of the candidates flooded the site, creating a spectacular scene on the voting night.
However, it seemed the voters’ turnout rate wasn’t as high as expected. According to sources, there were 9,000 new members signed up by all the candidates but only 600 eligible votes were casted.
Dong and Jiang geared up for the race after they were greenlit by the party. Text messages, robot calls from both contestants clogged party members’ cellphone prior to the nomination meeting.
Shelly Carroll, city councillor for DVN and Adam Vaughan, Liberal MP for Trinity Spadina have sent robot call messages supporting Dong. “Chinese and Canadians are good friends. Please vote for Han Dong” said a message in Chinese with strong English accident.
“I am supporting Hang Don as MP for Don Valley North, because I know him for very long time…He has a proven track record, delivering results for his constituents, “ said Shelly Carroll in her robot call message.
Among those endorsing Dong are also ex-provincial cabinet minister Michael Chan and fired China ambassador John McCallum, both prominent pro-China political figures. Giant photos of Dong with Chan and McCallum were displayed at the entrance of the poll station. Pictures of Dong and Chan were also printed on Dong’s campaign materials distributed at the scene.
The stance of political candidates towards China has been increasingly under the scrutiny of Canadian voters. "Do they support democracy, free speech? And a peaceful demonstration? Or are they close to Beijing and align with the Chinese government? These are the questions I would ask for the candidates when they knock on my door," said a resident at Don Valley North.
Dong rejected any suggestion that he was the pro-Beijing candidate, noting that he is also being supported by Liberal MP Adam Vaughn and Gerry Phillips, the former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister he considers his political mentor.
“I see myself as a Canadian running for Canadian public office,” he said in an interview with National Post.
The nomination meeting in DVN seems to buck a growing trend that party candidates get nominated through the appointment and without a contest. New research by the Toronto-based Samara Centre for Democracy reveals just 17% of candidates won a competitive nomination race in the past five federal elections. Many residents are happy about the nomination meeting and are supportive of this healthy, democratic practice in Don Valley North.
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