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Conservative Jamil Jivani wins federal byelection in Ontario riding of Durham, CBC News projects

A lawyer and political commentator running for the Conservatives won the federal byelection in the Ontario riding of Durham on Monday night, CBC News projects.

Jamil Jivani will take over the seat left vacant by former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole.

Jivani was president of the Canada Strong and Free Network, the political advocacy group and think-tank formerly known as the Manning Centre. He has written for the National Post and the Toronto Sun. According to the bio on his campaign website, Jivani has volunteered with several organizations dedicated to improving the lives of youth and is a cancer survivor.

“We set out to send Justin Trudeau a message and I think we were successful,” Jivani told supporters at a restaurant in Clarington, Ont.

“Durham wants Pierre Poilievre to be the next prime minister of Canada. I think that has been the resounding message from Scugog to Oshawa to Clarington.”

As of 10:20 p.m., Jivani had 7,102 votes, with a lead of 4,194 votes over Liberal candidate Robert Rock, a municipal councillor in the Township of Scugog. Rock had 2,906 votes. A total of 140 out of 217 polls were reporting.

Voting sign in Durham
A voting sign is pictured here. Durham, a riding with a mix of suburban and rural areas and roughly 116,250 registered voters, has been a Conservative stronghold for two decades. (CBC)

The byelection was called in January after longtime representative O’Toole announced his retirement from politics and resigned his seat last year. O’Toole held the riding, located east of Toronto, for the Conservatives for 11 years and also led the party in the 2021 federal election. 

“Justin Trudeau doesn’t really know what to do with people like me. And he doesn’t know what to do with a lot of people in this room. He looks at us and he thinks that his party owns us and owns our communities,” Jivani said.

“He looks at me and sees a millennial, son of an African immigrant, grandson of a public school custodian, survivor of cancer thanks to our public health care system and raised by a single mother. And he thinks that people like me owe his party something, that we have to fall in line behind his party. I obviously disagree,” he added.

“I think there are many conservatives like me, there are many conservatives who acknowledge that in 2024, it is our party that best represents the values of our communities.” 

Tories hold double-digit lead over Liberals in polls

The other candidates who ran for the seat include:

  • Robert Rock, Liberal Party of Canada. Rock is currently a municipal councillor in the Township of Scugog.
  • Chris Borgia, New Democratic Party. Borgia is an electrician and labour executive.
  • Kevin MacKenzie, Green Party of Canada. MacKenzie is a Catholic school board trustee in Clarington.
  • Patricia Conlin, People’s Party of Canada. Conlin is a consultant and leadership trainer.

The full list of candidates can be found here.

The vote comes as public polling suggests Pierre Poilievre’s Tories hold a double-digit lead over the governing Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Durham, a riding with a mix of suburban and rural areas and roughly 116,250 registered voters, has been a Conservative stronghold for two decades. O’Toole won re-election by at least nine percentage points in 2015, 2019 and 2021.

While Monday’s results won’t shift the balance of power in the House of Commons, they could preview the relative strength of the parties in the critical Greater Toronto Area with a federal election looming next year.

Jivani grew up in Brampton, Ont. and earned his law degree at Yale University. He’s written about his close friendship with J.D. Vance, his one-time Yale classmate who became a bestselling author with his book Hillbilly Elegy and now serves as U.S. senator for Ohio.

He is the founder of the Policing Literacy Initiative, a think tank dedicated to improving policing and community safety practices through a youth-driven approach, and the the author of the 2019 book “Why Young Men,” which examines the phenomenon of violence perpetrated by young men.

A yellow sign with black text that reads 'Elections Canada.'
Polls in Durham are open until 8:30 p.m. ET Monday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In an interview with CBC in April 2023, when asked how he might manage the transition from independent commentator to a candidate for a political party, he talked about his affinity for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“Having the right leader makes being a team player and working with people easier,” he said.

Jivani was at the centre of a controversy in July 2020 when he posted on Twitter a claim that heightened gun violence in Toronto was in part caused by “young gangsters” starting online “drama.” Jivani was at the time advising the Ford government on how to reach out to at-risk communities.

He was dropped from his show on Bell’s iHeartRadio network in January 2022 and has since sued the company, alleging breach of contract and wrongful dismissal. He’s arguing the company fired him because he did not fit their stereotype of a Black man. The company denies the allegations.

Affordability among top concerns in riding, voters say

Voters in Durham previously told CBC News that affordability and housing are among their top priorities.

On Monday, voters said it was important to cast ballots in the byelection.

Leslyn Chamberlin said affordable housing is top of mind for her. She added seniors like herself don’t seem to get the “notice” they need. 

“It’s very expensive to live anywhere in Canada nowadays,” Chamberlin said. 

“If we want Canada to be a good place, we have to let people know how we feel and we can only do that by voting.”

Stuart Buchanan, a resident lived in the riding since 1952, said he is hoping that the byelection will bring about a change. He said he’s pleased that the Liberals and NDP are working on bringing dental coverage to people who need it.

“I’m hoping it’s not Conservative this time around,” Buchanan said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.”

  • Do you have questions about this byelection or what it could mean for the next federal election? Send an email to

Larry Saint-Marie, a local resident, said he voted Conservative. He said he doesn’t know much about the candidate but voted along party lines. He said he is concerned about spending, scandals and inflation.

“Kind of getting tired of that,” Saint-Marie said.

“I’ve always voted. My mother was a returning officer for awhile. It’s been a long standing tradition in my family to always vote and get out there.”

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