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Conservatives candidate Jamil Jivani clinches seat in Ontario riding

COURTICE, Ont. — Conservative candidate Jamil Jivani celebrated his victory in the Ontario riding of Durham by thanking his allies and pouncing on his "Liberal elite" rivals, who he says are making life harder and more expensive for the working class.

Preliminary results from Elections Canada showed Jivani is poised for a seat in the House of Commons following Monday's byelection.

Jivani, a lawyer and commentator, had secured over 55 per cent of the votes with nearly all polls reporting as of late Monday evening.

Liberal candidate Robert Rock secured the second-most votes, and NDP candidate Chris Borgia placed third.

While Durham is a Conservative stronghold, it's one of the largest margins of victory the Tories have had in the riding in the past 20 years.

Jivani's success comes as the Tories continue to surge in polls ahead of the governing Liberal party, and as Conservatives push a message that promises to "axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime."

In his victory speech at Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar & Grill in Courtice, Ont., Jivani said it's his Conservative party that will best represent the values of communities in the upcoming federal election, which must happen by fall of 2025. Under Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, the party will "bring change to this country," he said.

"When we talk about what's happening in the country right now, I do think it is the Liberal elites betraying the working people of this country, betraying the middle class, betraying the working class," Jivani said.

Those Liberal elites, Jivani said, include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Liberal party, big banks and telecommunication companies who are "driving up the cost of everything."

He also pointed to the Ministry of Education under Ontario Premier Doug Ford. In 2022, Jivani resigned as Ontario’s first community opportunities advocate after raising concerns that some of the Progressive Conservative government's COVID-19 pandemic policies were having a negative impact on marginalized youth and their parents.

Jivani also criticized other "Liberal elites" that he said include activists and academics "who undermine law enforcement and public safety."

"They're easy to spot," Jivani charged, telling his crowd of supporters to look out for people who are pushing "diversity, equity and inclusion" and "environmental, social and governance" initiatives "while hiking up the cost of living."

"They are the people who virtue signal and engage in performance theatre while your life gets harder," he said.

"And they are the people who serve the interests of a privileged few and make you feel like a bad person for expecting our country to work for you, and they are wrong."

The Durham byelection was held to replace former Conservative leader Erin O'Toole who served as official Opposition leader from August 2020 until February 2022, and left his seat last spring.

Durham has been a longtime conservative stronghold, with a Tory representing that riding for the last 20 years.

The restaurant was packed for Jivani's victory speech, with his supporters and staff cheering from wall to wall.

Several of his future caucus members were also there to show their support, including Ontario MP Michelle Ferreri, who represents the Peterborough—Kawartha riding, and Ontario MP Colin Carrie, who represents Oshawa.

Poilievre celebrated the victory on X, formerly known as Twitter, by congratulating Jivani online.

At the end of his 10-minute speech, someone handed Jivani a wrestling belt. He put it on his shoulder and shouted, "Let's go!"

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.

-- With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press