By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton businessman Javid Mirza is hoping to ride Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne’s popularity all the way to Queen’s Park.
Mirza defeated Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board trustee Laura Peddle for the Hamilton Mountain provincial Liberal riding nomination contest June 12 at Michelangelo Banquet and Convention Centre.
“This is my home. I want to represent my home,” said Mirza, after his win. “I will do whatever it takes to win this riding back.”
Mirza, who helped rally Hamilton’s Liberals around Wynne in her bid to win the party’s leadership contest earlier this year, is now looking to the premier to boost local Liberals’ chances to take back the provincial seats in Hamilton the party lost in the last election.
The NDP’s Monique Taylor pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the 2011 election, unseating cabinet minister Sophia Aggelonitis 20,492 votes to 14,694. The Progressive Conservative candidate Geordie Elms took third with 8,641votes.
“The passion that (Wynne) has, I think it will benefit the province, and it will benefit Hamilton,” said Mirza. “Premier Wynne is committed to Hamilton.
Ontarians avoided another provincial election this week after the NDP propped up the Liberals by supporting their budget. There is some speculation that an election could occur next spring.
Going into the contested nomination meeting, Mirza had collected stalwart Liberal supporters on his side, including former federal candidate Tyler Banham, who helped sign up a large number of people, while Peddle had former federal MP Beth Phinney in her corner.
There were 416 ballots counted, with eight of them spoiled. Party officials did not release the vote breakdown.
After the results of the vote were announced at 10:45 p.m., Peddle congratulated Mirza on his victory, while also thanking her family and supporters.
“It was a very short and big learning curve for us,” she said.
Mirza, who founded the small business Seven Star Sports, said Hamilton needs a “voice” at Queen’s Park, especially when the city has only one Liberal MPP representing the city, cabinet minister Ted McMeekin.
The one issue confronting Hamilton remains transit, specifically solving the GO issue, said Mirza.
“I think that is the key,” he said. “We have to figure something out and how and what we are going to get this GO thing going. And I’m definitely going to learn more and educate myself about this process and what we need to do.”
This is the first time Mirza has been a provincial candidate. In 2006 he ran as the Hamilton Centre federal Liberal candidate, but finished second to the popular NDP candidate David Christopherson.
Mirza, the past-president of the Muslim Association of Hamilton, has been involved in the Liberal party for about 40 years, backing Paul Martin’s bid to become federal leader in 2003, and he threw his support behind Tony Valeri over Sheila Copps for the open Hamilton East-Stoney Creek federal Liberal riding in 2004.