Thornhill is a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that has been represented in the House of Commons of Canada since 1997. It consists of the part of the city of Vaughan that is east of Highway 400 and south of Rutherford Road, and the part of the city of Markham west of Bayview Avenue. It covers the Thornhill neighbourhood, which is split between Vaughan and Markham. The riding was created in 1996 and the east end of the riding was split off into other ridings in 2012. It has been represented by Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Kent since 2008.
The riding was initially safe for the Liberals, and they won large majorities of the vote in its first two elections. In 2004, the large Jewish population started shifting toward the Conservative Party, and the Conservatives won the riding in 2008. After being targeted by the Conservatives as part of their strategy to win a majority in 2011, the riding became a Conservative stronghold.
The riding is named after Thornhill, a community first settled along Yonge Street in the mid-1790s, around the time of the street’s opening. The community of Concord occupies the northern and western parts of the riding.
According to the 2016 census, the population of the riding was 112,719, up 2.1% from 2011. In 2015, the median income in the riding was $33,474 compared to $30,798 in 2010. The average income in the riding was $54,590 compared to $47,097 in 2010. The most spoken non-official language in the riding is Russian (14.5%) and 16.4% of the population is of Russian Ethnic origin. The second largest ethnic origin is Chinese with 11.2% in 2016. About 37% of the riding’s population is part of a visible minority. The riding also has a large Jewish population (37.1% in 2011) and has been cited as showing voting trends among Jewish populations. The riding has a higher rate of postsecondary certificates, diplomas, and degrees than the Ontario average (66% compared to 55% for those aged 15+). The riding has been described as a Conservative stronghold.
1996-2004: Liberal dominance
The riding was first established in the 1996 redistribution from parts of York North and Markham—Whitchurch—Stouffville, consisting of the part of Vaughan east of Highway 400 and south of Rutherford Road, and the part of Markham west of Highway 404. Both of the ridings Thornhill was originally part of elected Liberal MPs in 1993, though York North’s Liberal vote share was about 17% more of the vote than that of Markham—Whitchurch—Stouffville. The riding’s redistributed result had the Liberals at 60%, triple the amount of the Progressive Conservatives (PCs). In the 1997 election, Liberal candidate Elinor Caplan, who had previously served in the cabinet of former Premier David Peterson, won with 59% of the vote, more than double the number received by PC candidate Bill Fisch, who came second. Similarly to the previous election, the Liberals had nearly swept the province of Ontario, this time winning all but two seats.
In 1999, Caplan was appointed to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s cabinet as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. In the 2000 election, Caplan would win again, this time with nearly 65% of the vote and by more than four times the amount won by Canadian Alliance candidate Robert Goldin. Provincially, the Liberals had won another near-sweep of Ontario. In 2002, Chrétien moved Caplan to Minister of National Revenue. During the 2003 electoral redistribution, a tiny part of the riding near Rutherford Road and Keele Street was transferred to Vaughan due to a slight change in Rutherford Road’s alignment in the area.
2004-2011: Shift to the Conservatives
On February 23, 2004, Caplan announced that she would not run in the next federal election. The Liberals then chose Susan Kadis, who was then a Vaughan City Councillor, as their candidate for the next election. In the 2004 election, many ridings with large Jewish populations, Thornhill among them, started shifting toward the Conservative Party. The Liberal Party would end up losing 10% of the vote and they were now at 54.6%, about 20% more of the vote than Conservative candidate Josh Cooper. In the 2006 election, both Kadis and the Conservative candidate got slightly less votes than in 2004.
Shortly after the 2006 election, Kadis was chosen to be the associate critic for Infrastructure and Communities. In March 2008, she was appointed National Revenue critic by Opposition Leader Stéphane Dion. In the 2008 election, the Conservative Party chose Peter Kent, an established media personality who had ran in St. Paul’s in 2006, as their candidate. Kent would end up winning the riding with 49% of the vote compared to Kadis’ 39%, possibly due to the fact that Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised continued support for Israel.
2011-present: Conservative stronghold
Kent served as the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas until a January 2011 cabinet shuffle when he was promoted to Minister of the Environment. This was met with some criticism as he was the fifth Environment Minister in five years. It also signalled Prime Minister Harper’s determination to increase support in the Greater Toronto Area. In the 2011 election, the Conservative Party targeted the riding as part of their strategy to gain a majority government and both Prime Minister Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff had campaign stops in the riding. Kent ended up increasing his vote share to 61%, compared to 24% for the Liberal candidate.
During the 2012 redistribution, the area of the riding east of Bayview Avenue was transferred to Richmond Hill north of Highway 407 and the new riding of Markham—Thornhill south of Highway 407. Concerns were raised about dividing the community of Thornhill into 2 ridings, suggesting that Concord be excluded from the riding instead. The name of the riding was also an issue, as the proposed name, “Vaughan—Thornhill” was thought to exclude Markham. Markham was going to be added to the name before Kent suggested reverting the name to Thornhill, which ended up happening. The redistributed result put the Conservatives 2% higher than the actual result. In July 2013, Kent was shuffled out of cabinet, becoming a backbench MP. During his tenure, critics had described him as “Canada’s worst environment minister.”
In the 2015 election, Kent lost about 5% of the vote, now receiving 58.6% to the Liberal candidate’s 33.7%. Shortly after the 2015 election, Kent became the Conservative Foreign Affairs critic. After a 2017 shadow cabinet shuffle, Kent became the Conservatives’ Ethics critic. In 2019, Kent won his fourth consecutive election with 54.6% of the vote to Liberal candidate Gary Gladstone’s 35.4%. After the 2019 election, Kent was appointed critic on immigration, refugees, and citizenship.
Members of Parliament
This riding has elected the following members of the House of Commons of Canada:
Graph of general election results in Thornhill (minor parties that never got 2% of the vote or didn’t run consistently are omitted)
|2019 Canadian federal election|
|New Democratic||Sara Petrucci||3,469||6.5||+1.3||$1.38|
|Green||Josh Rachlis||1,600||3.00||+1.8||none listed|
|Canada’s Fourth Front||Waseem Malik||77||0.1||–||none listed|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||53,496||100.0||111,210.50|
|Total rejected ballots||583||1.07||+0.48|
|Source: Elections Canada|
|2015 Canadian federal election|
|New Democratic||Lorne Cherry||2,814||5.20||-6.29||$6,832.09|
|Seniors||Margaret Leigh Fairbairn||157||0.30||–||$4,584.13|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||54,491||100.0||$216,565.52|
|Total rejected ballots||324||0.59||–|
|Source: Elections Canada|
|2011 Canadian federal election|
|New Democratic||Simon Strelchik||7,141||11.97||+5.35||$5,397.91|
|Animal Alliance||Liz White||215||0.36||–||$7,002.05|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||59,672||100.00||–||$99,784.20|
|Total rejected ballots||275||0.46||–|
|Source: Elections Canada|
|2008 Canadian federal election|
|New Democratic||Simon Strelchik||3,601||6.62||-1.19||$4,835|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||54,395||100.00||–||$95,547|
|Source: Elections Canada|
Note: Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 election.
Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.
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The riding is a conservative stronghold
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