PUBLICATION by accinent


									PUBLICATION:  The Toronto Star
DATE:         2005.12.04
SECTION:      News
PAGE:         A6
BYLINE:       Patrick Evans
              TOP PHOTO St. Paul's riding as seen along Eglinton Ave.
              W.yesterday, looking west from Old Forest Hill Rd. THE ANCHOR
              Peter Kent THE ECONOMIST Paul Summerville THE DOCTOR
              Carolyn Bennett Carlos Osorio TORONTO STAR THE DOCTOR
              Carolyn Bennett THE ANCHOR Peter Kent THE ECONOMIST
              Paul Summerville

The doctor, the anchor and the economist; Candidates
in the bellwether riding of St. Paul's represent the
GTA's most peculiar and perhaps most telling race,
writes Patrick Evans The capitalist

Listen to my idea for a zany political comedy.

There's this economist, see, who has worked for big banks for years. Here's the twist. An
election campaign starts and this capitalist dude decides to run for a left-wing party called
the NDP.

There's more. The leftie economist is up against this really polished television anchor,
who shocks everybody by announcing he's going to run as a Conservative. Then, he goes
around town saying the liberal media have a bias against his party.

Smack dab in the political middle is this doctor who wears power-politics pinstripe suits
but has this total earth-mother side, and she's won the riding in the last three elections for
the Liberals. And she's famous because before she was in politics she delivered, like, half
the babies in Toronto, and ....

Wait. That's not my zany political comedy idea. That's the election battle in Toronto's St.
Paul's riding.

Running for the NDP is Paul Summerville, the former chief economist for RBC
Dominion Securities who says he's crunched the numbers for a prosperous Canada and
they boil down to this equation social justice = wealth creation.

Summerville left his job with TD Financial Group in Tokyo in September 2004, when he
decided it was time to take a shot at politics. He relocated to Victoria, B.C., with his wife
and teenage son. Politics was a long-time dream, and Summerville had some early
exposure to that life. His uncle, Donald Summerville, had a brief run as Toronto mayor in
1963. (He died in office.)

In B.C., Summerville started rubbing shoulders with Carole James, leader of the
provincial NDP party. One of her team, MPP John Horgan, called Summerville "out of
the blue" and invited him for coffee.

"Literally 10 minutes into our discussion," Summerville recalls, "he said, 'You're not an
asshole at all. You're not like some - investment banker.'" The meeting ended with
Horgan urging Summerville to run federally for the NDP.

Summerville and Jack Layton met for dinner this past January and got along famously. In
May, Summerville made it official, and started building a team to conquer St. Paul's.
Summerville describes St. Paul's as "the ultimate urban environment." Roughly bordered
by Eglinton Ave. W., Dufferin St., the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Bayview Ave., it
has a population of 112,370, more than a fifth of which is made up of visible minorities.
It is also a riding where the average family income, according to the government's 2001
district profile, is $130,384. (The provincial average is $73,849.)

The economic prosperity Summerville envisions doesn't just affect St. Paul's. The riding
has long been a bellwether for the rest of the country; since 1974, the party that has won
St. Paul's has won the election.

Summerville, who turns 48 this week, had a debutante ball of sorts in June when Layton
introduced him to about 450 of the party faithful at a mini-NDP convention in Ottawa.
Summerville started his introductory speech by lecturing his audience on their crummy
reputation when it comes to money.

"Canadians don't listen to you when you talk about the economy," Summerville
paraphrases for me. "They think you're going to bankrupt the economy. They think that
when you say the word 'prosperity,' it's followed by 'taxation.'"

To hear Summerville tell it, a star was born. "I had four standing ovations. I never had
four standing ovations in my life."

Since then, he's been talking up an NDP-style economic vision of strong investment in
education and health. Canadians who are smart and healthy can be vigorous players in a
global economy, he says. A bit of fiscal prudence also goes into this mix - the spending
has to be in line with what the government can afford.

Summerville admits his NDP candidacy evoked a "Huh? Wha?" response from some of
his corporate-world pals.

"There are my friends" - he chooses his words carefully - "I don't want to say from Bay
Street, but who have a different bent. These are not people who are uncomfortable about
my social convictions."

He's referring to his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs. "These are people who are very
pragmatic and are not convinced the NDP will ever be economically responsible... "
"Paul," he says they told him, "you're crazy."
With his economic credentials, they said, he'd be a slam-dunk as a Conservative

Summerville told those suits that the other parties just don't fit who he is.
"This is the suit that feels comfortable right now."

If you've seen Peter Kent on TV, you know what you'll get in person the senior anchor
whose good looks, at age 62, have withstood time; the boom-boom voice of authority.
Ramrod straight all those years at his anchor desk, he never seemed capable of fluid
movement. But in person, Kent can lean forward to make a point or collapse laughing
into the back of his seat.

His story is a variation of Summerville's. He also got the "Huh? Wha?" reaction when he
announced in May that he was running as a Conservative.
"A lot of my friends were quite shocked that, in fact, they'd been cohabiting with a
conservative all these years," he says.

Maybe it was his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage convictions that had them fooled.
Regardless, his election bid wasn't the only bombshell Kent dropped this year. In
September, his journalist colleagues got their tickertape in a tangle after he sent a letter to
29 journalism schools asking them to monitor media bias against the Conservative party
in the next election.

Those accused of bias cried out in unison It's not true! Then, they tried to turn the tables
on Kent, asking why he didn't step down from the job he's held in recent years - deputy
editor of Global News - the moment he agreed to run in the election. Kent said he
removed himself from any participation in Global's editorial decisions, and still had
plenty of work to keep him busy, like making Global newsrooms digital.

And he stands by his reading of anti-Conservative bias in the media. Take all the talk
about extremist voices in the party. "That's the selectivity of the media in covering
perceived Conservative narrow minds and not covering Liberal or NDP narrow minds."
He says there are "wackos" in every party, but "Conservative wackos receive
disproportionate press."

Speaking of press, he says he was misquoted in a recent Maclean's article that had him
describing, with excess modesty, his bid for St. Paul's as "suicidal."

"That wasn't my word," he says. "I was sandbagged with that article." Kent says he was
quoting a pal who said, "You must be suicidal to run in St. Paul's. Why didn't you take a
safe seat?"

For months now, Kent has been knocking on doors in St. Paul's to sell voters on a
platform of honesty in government, a reduced tax burden on struggling Canadians, and
corporate tax cuts to make the country more competitive.

He's also been putting in a good word for Conservative leader Stephen Harper wherever
he can, and that hasn't always been easy.
Brothers Frank and Sandy Bozzo, owners of a barbershop at Yonge and St. Clair, are
loyal Kent supporters. Last week, when Kent swung by for a haircut, Sandy had just
finished cutting a client's hair and wooing his vote for the Conservatives.

"Peter, I'm having a hard time convincing this guy to vote Conservative," Bozzo said. "I
twisted his arm, almost cut his ear off. But it's nothing against you."

The customer was wary of Harper, not Kent.

"Sandy was one of the first to come forward and volunteer," said Kent as Bozzo started
cutting his hair.

"Peter doesn't have any nose hair, any ear hair," Bozzo said proudly.
At the news conference where Kent announced his candidacy, the barber got to see his
buddy and Harper standing side by side.

"I was looking at both of them," Bozzo recalled. "I thought that Peter should be the

Over at Carolyn Bennett's office, the doctor is in.

She has held on to the St. Paul's riding since 1997, winning 58 per cent of votes last year
even as the country fumed over the sponsorship scandal. Bennett is the one to beat in this

The heating system in her brand new campaign office is coughing up whatever hot air it
can muster, but it's not enough. Bennett, 54, is walking around with a Liberal-red scarf
twisted around her neck.

If Summerville and Kent seem to be playing against type, Bennett's doctor-on-call
identity has been part and parcel of her entire political career, right up to her cabinet
debut last year as Minister of the State for Public Health.

As Bennett talks, an earth-mother vibe emanates from beneath the pinstriped power suit.
She doesn't burn incense in the constituency office or canvas in Birkenstocks. The vibe
comes from all the years Bennett immersed herself in the mysteries of childbirth.

"My last year of medical school, I did two months in Barbados learning from midwives
about obstetrics," she says. "I think that's when I became a very non-medical model
person. I became very obsessed about (how) Mother Nature had a certain way of doing
things, and we as doctors shouldn't get in the way."

Bennett's labours with labouring women made her a Toronto celebrity. Throughout her
medical career, women would leave their physicians when they were pregnant to go to
Bennett. Maybe it was her distinctive voice that coaxed the babies out of the womb - a
Demi Moore rasp combined with Sean Connery's way of turning an "s" into a "sh."
"I must have done something that made people feel that they thought they could do it,"
Bennett says, describing a recent encounter with a woman whose baby she delivered.
"When she thought she'd given up and couldn't push any more, she told me I took her
hand and put it on the baby's head. And she said, 'Okay, I can do it.' It was just as simple
as that."
When she ran for the provincial seat in St. Paul's in 1995 - the only time she lost an
election - Bennett had to tell her patients that it was time to find a new doctor.

"Everybody was bursting into tears, going 'We're going to lose this good doctor.' I ended
up saying, 'I think I have to do this so it's possible to be a good doctor.' Because at that
point, even in '94-'95. We were very frustrated at the lack of health reform even in an
NDP (provincial) government.

"If the system's falling down around you, it's very difficult to get the patients what they
need when they need it. And so I felt that I needed to take a voice from the trenches into a
place where the decisions got made."

So the doctor made her House (of Commons) call, and never came back.

St. Paul's hopefuls say they look forward to a civil election and a lively debate. Each
treads carefully on the subject of their celebrity opponents, preferring to talk up their own
party, their own agenda.

But slowly, the gloves slip off.

Summerville wonders if Kent is really a Liberal in Conservative's clothing. "I don't get
where Peter is on social issues. I don't get where he is on the economy," he says.

Both Summerville and Kent say Bennett hasn't done enough to improve her riding. Kent
puts it like this "She's delivered a lot of babies in St. Paul's, and people seem quite
enthusiastic now to send her back to public health where they tell me that she'll better
serve this community."

He goes a bit easier on Summerville "I'm dying to get to some Town Halls to see how he
can justify Jack Layton's anti-corporate tax policy."

And Bennett is content to point out that she was born in St. Paul's and lives there today,
unlike Kent, who resides in Cabbagetown, and Summerville, who is dividing his time
between Toronto and Victoria, where he has a 17-year-old son.

So, peculiar casting aside, this race is no political comedy. The residents of St. Paul's,
however - and perhaps the entire country - will be watching closely to see who gets the
last laugh

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