John McKay is the last of a crop of Scarborough Liberals who had a lock on the Toronto suburb for a quarter of a century. The group also included Derek Lee in the northeast, Tom Wappel in the southwest, Jim Karygiannis in the northwest, and John Cannis in the heart of Scarborough. Lee, Wappel and Karygiannis found their way into the House of Commons in 1988. Cannis joined them in 1993, and McKay in 1997. The gang was famous for its social conservatism, including persistent opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Slowly, the gang fell apart. Michelle Simson, a fellow Liberal, ousted Wappel in 2008. Lee retired in 2011, and Cannis barely avoided a third-place finish as the Liberal vote collapsed. McKay survived that test, but barely, in the south-central riding of Scarborough-Guildwood. Karygiannis cruised to victory in the northwest, but retired earlier this year to run for a seat on Toronto’s city council.
Now, McKay represents the last vestige of those conservative Liberals in a suburb where, for so long, conservative Liberals swept the board. That formula doesn’t exactly jibe with Justin Trudeau’s approach to social conservatives in the ranks; McKay’s a bit of a relic, much as Trudeau might attempt to accommodate the odd dissenting vote. That’s why someone—ahem, a Tory—capturing McKay’s voice, on tape, criticizing his leader, is headline news.
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