While the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley remained a consistent orange hue on Canada’s electoral map after the 2015 federal election, the Toronto suburb riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge turned Liberal red after Prince Rupert product Francesco Sorbara captured the seat.
The corporate debt analyst, who obtained his MA in Economics at the University of Toronto and his Bachelor’s degree at Simon Fraser University, won the riding from Conservative incumbent and former Veteran’s Affairs minister, Julian Fantino. Sorbara was born and raised in Prince Rupert all the way up until his late teens, when he left to attend Simon Fraser.
“I’m a Rupertite,” said Sorbara, over the phone last week. [From] 1972 to 1995 I was born and raised [in Prince Rupert].”
Sorbara knew he would enter politics from an early age. In 1989, when former Prime Minister Jean Chretien came to Prince Rupert, Sorbara was on-hand to welcome the Liberal leader to the North Coast.
Sorbara has kept a quote from the Rupert newspaper that stated “Chretien’s opinion of Canada is very optimistic and I believe he will be the future Prime Minister”.
He’s carried that quote with him ever since he was a teenager and looks back fondly on his formative days that shaped his values as Liberal Party member and now MP.
“I was always involved politically, but [back then] being so young, you’re limited in terms of what you can and can’t do,” said Sorbara.
“Literally, since I was a kid, I just knew I was a Liberal. I felt their values were in line with mine.”
The Rupertite has lived in the Toronto area for the past 12 years and for the past three, in the Vaughan riding. He credits a complete ground game and door-knocking strategy that led the rookie MP to unseat the favourite Fantino.
“We ran a great campaign with a good platform. I think it resonated with Canadians and we just ran a very positive campaign.”
Sorbara focused his message on helping middle class Canadians lead better lives, as well as helping those with lower income become a part of the middle class.
The new MP last visited the North Coast on the May long weekend and was here for a wedding and then again for a 25th high school reunion, being a 1990 graduate. He still has friends and family that live in the city, and they are “happy to see the success [he] has achieved so far in his young life”.
“I’m always going to be a Rupertite no matter where I go,” he said.