2020 York Centre federal by-election

A by-election was held in the federal riding of York Centre in Ontario on October 26, 2020 following the resignation of incumbent Liberal MP Michael Levitt after 5 years in Parliament. The seat was held for the Liberals by businesswoman Ya'ara Saks, albeit on a much reduced majority. People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier ran in this election to attempt to gain his party's first seat in Parliament (after having lost his seat in Beauce - the party's only seat - to the Conservatives in the 2019 election), to little success, winning just several hundred votes.

2020 York Centre federal by-election

← 2019 October 26, 2020 (2020-10-26) 2-21 →

Riding of York Centre
Turnout25.64% (Decrease 25.64pp)
  First party Second party Third party
Candidate Ya'ara Saks Julius Tiangson Andrea Vásquez Jiménez
Party Liberal Conservative New Democratic
Popular vote 8,253 7,552 1,046
Percentage 45.70% 41.82% 5.79%
Swing Decrease 4.50pp Increase 5.11pp Decrease 4.05pp

MP before election

Michael Levitt

Elected MP

Ya'ara Saks

It was held on the same day as the by-election in nearby Toronto Centre.



York University is a focal part of the constituency.

York Centre is a suburban constituency in Toronto. It contains the neighbourhoods of Westminster–Branson, Bathurst Manor, Wilson Heights, Downsview, and York University Heights.

As per the 2016 Census, 17.0% of York Centre residents are of Filipino ethnic origin and 16.0% belong to the Filipino visible minority, which are the highest such figures among all City of Toronto ridings. At the same time, the York Centre riding has the highest percentage of residents of Russian (9.5%) and Jewish (5.6%) ethnic origins (in the 2011 National Household Survey, 13.6% of York Centre residents had entered a Jewish ethnic origin).


The riding was previously considered one of the safest Liberal Party seats in Canada; electing liberal MPs near consistently since 1962.

Conservative Mark Adler won the seat in 2011, but lost it to Michael Levitt in 2015. In recent years, York Centre has been considered a marginal seat. Levitt was re-elected on an increased majority in 2019.

On August 4, 2020, Levitt announced he would be resigning as an MP, effective September 1, 2020, to become the President and CEO of the Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies.[1]


By September 7, five candidates had launched their campaigns for the Liberal nomination including 2019 Thornhill candidate Gary Gladstone, former chief fundraiser of the provincial Ontario Liberal Fund, Bobby Walman, as well as former Canadian Jewish News editor Yoni Goldstein.[2] It was announced on September 17 that communications specialist Ya'ara Saks would be appointed as the Liberal candidate.[3]

Rumoured candidates for the Conservative nomination included 2019 candidate Rachel Willson, York Centre MPP Roman Baber, and former parliamentary staffer Melissa Lantsman; they all declined.[4][5][6] Wilson announced on September 18 that she would not be running.[citation needed] The Conservatives ultimately nominated Julius Tiangson, who previously ran for the party in Mississauga Centre in 2015.[7]

NDP candidate Andrea Vásquez Jiménez[8] previously ran for the seat in the 2019 election.[9]

People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier said he intended to run in either the Toronto Centre or York Centre by-election.[10] Bernier decided he would run in York Centre when the by-elections were announced.[11]

Perennial candidate John "The Engineer" Turmel registered as an Independent candidate.[8]

The Speaker's warrant regarding the vacancy was received on September 1, 2020; under the Parliament of Canada Act the writ for a by-election had to be dropped no later than February 28, 2021, 180 days after the Chief Electoral Officer was officially notified of the vacancy via a warrant issued by the Speaker.[12] Under the Canada Elections Act, the minimum length of a campaign is 36 days between dropping the writ and election day.[12]


Canadian federal by-election, October 26, 2020: York Centre
Resignation of Michael Levitt
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Ya'ara Saks 8,253 45.70 −4.50 $96,612.31
Conservative Julius Tiangson 7,552 41.82 +5.11
New Democratic Andrea Vásquez Jiménez 1,046 5.79 −4.05 $2,462.86
People's Maxime Bernier 642 3.56 $27,917.42
Green Sasha Zavarella 461 2.55 −0.70 $463.46
Independent John "The Engineer" Turmel 104 0.58
Total valid votes/Expense limit 18,058 100.00 $105,734.74
Total rejected ballots 166 0.91 −0.61
Turnout 18,224 25.64 −36.12
Eligible voters 70,434
Liberal hold Swing −4.81

2019 resultEdit

2019 Canadian federal election: York Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Michael Levitt 21,680 50.20 +3.32 $93,151.84
Conservative Rachel Willson 15,852 36.71 −7.29 $89,344.00
New Democratic Andrea Vásquez Jiménez 4,251 9.84 +2.51 none listed
Green Rebecca Wood 1,403 3.25 +1.45 $0.00
Total valid votes/Expense limit 43,186 98.48
Total rejected ballots 665 1.52 +0.78
Turnout 43,851 61.76 -3.96
Eligible voters 71,000
Source: Elections Canada[15][16]
Liberal hold Swing +5.31


  1. ^ "Toronto Liberal MP resigns to helm Jewish human rights organization". CBC News. August 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "Saks and Gladstone entering hotly contested Liberal nomination race in York Centre". The Hill Times. September 7, 2020. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Gilmore, Rachel (September 17, 2020). "Broadcast journalist Marci Ien will be Liberal nomination in Morneau's former riding". CTV News. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Rana, Abbas (August 31, 2020). "Ontario MPP Baber, former senior staffer Lantsman, and former candidate Willson said to be eyeing Conservative nomination in York Centre". The Hill Times. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  5. ^ Baber, Roman [@Roman_Baber] (September 1, 2020). "(1/3) I'm grateful for the support received in the last day. Despite media speculation, I am not eyeing a Federal nomination at this time" (Tweet). Retrieved September 6, 2020 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Lantsman, Melissa [@MelissaLantsman] (September 3, 2020). "Thanks 🙏 for all of the love. This ⬇️ is a big decision and for me, it's not the right time" (Tweet). Retrieved September 6, 2020 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Conservative Party [@CPC_HQ] (September 23, 2020). "Congrats to Ryan Lester & Julius Tiangson on their nominations in the by-elections for Toronto Centre & York Centre" (Tweet). Retrieved September 24, 2020 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ a b Final list will be available on 7 October. "List of candidates - York Centre (Ontario)". Elections Canada. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Andrea Vásquez Jiménez For York Centre". Canada's NDP. Retrieved 2021-02-08.
  10. ^ "Maxime Bernier plans to run in a Toronto-area byelection". iPolitics. September 1, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  11. ^ Benzie, Robert (September 18, 2020). "Maxime Bernier, Marci Ien running in two Toronto byelections called for Oct. 26". Welland Tribune. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Vacant Seats in the House of Commons Since the 2019 General Election". Elections Canada. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  13. ^ Elections Canada. "Official Voting Results". Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  14. ^ Canada, Elections. "Final Election Expenses Limit for Candidates – York Centre (Ontario)". www.elections.ca. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "List of confirmed candidates". Elections Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  16. ^ "Official Voting Results". Elections Canada. Retrieved September 18, 2020.

See alsoEdit