Races to watch in Ontario election tonight

By Allison Jones

Municipal elections are taking place across Ontario. Here are smayoral races to watch:

Thunder Bay

Ken Boshcoff has previously served as mayor of this northern Ontario city from 1997 to 2003 and is vying for the role again. He was also a Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River from 2004 to 2008, and was elected locally in Thunder Bay again in 2010 as a councillor at large. Boshcoff made a failed attempt at the mayoralty in 2014, when he lost to the incumbent. This time, he faces four other candidates, including Peng You, a current councillor at large in the city. The next mayor of Thunder Bay will have to grapple with a host of serious issues, including an opioid addiction crisis and calls for policing reforms to improve the relationship with Indigenous residents.


Former NDP leader Andrea Horwath is attempting to start a new chapter in her political career by going back to where it began. Horwath, who served three terms on Hamilton city council starting in 1997, is running for mayor of that city. Her bid comes after she stepped down as provincial NDP leader earlier this year, following four elections at the helm of the party. During that time the NDP secured official Opposition status, but failed to form government. Horwath is up against eight other candidates, including Bob Bratina, who previously served as mayor and was a Hamilton MP.


Steven Del Duca is seeking a political comeback at the municipal level. The former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister became the party’s leader in 2020 and tried to carry it out of the political wilderness, though in this year’s provincial election it gained just one more seat than in 2018 – still not enough for official party status in the legislature. Del Duca stepped down after the loss and is trying his hand at municipal politics. He is vying for the mayor’s job against six other candidates, including Sandra Yeung Racco, who has served five terms on Vaughan’s city council.


Unlike in Hamilton and Vaughan, Brampton’s current mayor is running as an incumbent, though it could still prove to be an interesting race. Patrick Brown first secured the mayor’s job in 2018 after he stepped down as leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives amid sexual misconduct allegations that he denies. But his time as mayor has been turbulent as well, with allegations of financial and contract irregularities and a council sharply divided by pro- and anti-Brown allegiances. His main contender appears to be Nikki Kaur, a former municipal employee who brought forward unverified allegations as a whistleblower against top city officials. She has a team of political heavy hitters working for her, hoping to take down Brown.


Jim Watson is not running again, so the mayor’s race is an open contest in Ottawa. There are 14 contenders, but the top names are city councillor Catherine McKenney, former journalist Mark Sutcliffe, and former provincial cabinet minister and former Ottawa mayor, Bob Chiarelli. McKenney and Sutcliffe have secured some high-profile endorsements and polling suggests the race will come down to them, though several surveys have McKenney in the lead.

The province recently granted “strong mayor” powers to both Toronto and Ottawa in the interest of getting more housing built quickly, but both McKenney and Sutcliffe have said they are not interested in the veto to override council.


The country’s most populous city has a whopping 31 people on the mayoral ballot, though the incumbent is expected to cruise to victory. John Tory is seeking a third term and polls suggest he is well ahead of the next closest challenger, Gil Penalosa. Penalosa’s campaign has hit on the themes of parks and public spaces, road safety and affordable housing, among other topics. Tory has also committed to tackling housing affordability and, unlike the Ottawa mayoral contenders, has said he supports strong mayor powers in order to get more housing built.

Port Colborne

It’s Steele vs. Steele in Port Colborne, as incumbent Mayor Bill Steele’s only challenger is his brother, Charles Steele. The latter Steele has said in interviews that he and his brother haven’t spoken in decades, and he put his name on the ballot so his brother doesn’t run unopposed.