Mississauga South contains some of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. But beneath the serenity of a lake view and the rich history of communities such as Port Credit, Clarkson and Lorne Park, residents have concerns as the May 2 federal election nears.
The riding is also considered one of the key Greater Toronto Area battlegrounds that will decide if Prime Minister Stephen Harper wins a majority government.
Infrastructure funding, the Credit River, the HST, help for seniors and poverty are issues of interest to residents. With a long stretch of Lake Ontario on its southern border, Mississauga South is home to residents who are concerned about waterfront development and intensification along the shoreline.
The population of 113,000 makes it the smallest of the city’s six ridings. Nearly 24 per cent of residents are visible minorities — not as high as other ridings, but longtime residents in Lakeview and Orchard Heights say their areas are multicultural.
The riding is bordered by Lake Ontario to the south, The Queensway to the north, Etobicoke Creek to the east and Winston Churchill Blvd. to the west.
Mississauga South has been a Liberal stronghold since 1993, when Paul Szabo beat then-incumbent Tory Don Blenkarn, who had held the seat since the riding was formed in 1979.
Critics believe the riding was ripe for the picking in 1993 due to the high number of Progressive Conservative voters turning to the emerging Reform Party.
In the 2006 election, Szabo won by a slim margin of 4.1 per cent over Tory Phil Green.
The riding was generally thought to be a top Tory target in the 2008 election, but the drawn-out and somewhat acrimonious nature of the Conservative nomination process and Szabo’s increased profile thanks to his chairing the House of Commons Ethics Committee might have damaged Conservative attempts to capture the seat. Tory Hugh Arrison was unable to defeat Szabo. Also, Mississauga South was one of the few ridings outside Quebec where the Liberal Party increased its percentage of votes received from 2006 (by 4.51 per cent).