POLITICS

Phil Trotter, Etobicoke-Lakeshore NDP Candidate Denies Trolling Conservatives With Election Bid

10/17/2015 09:15 EDT | Updated 10/17/2015 09:59 EDT
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No, the NDP isn’t trolling the Conservatives by nominating a federal candidate with a similar last name to the incumbent — it’s “all coincidence,” according to Phil Trotter.

In the Toronto-area riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Conservative Bernard Trottier is facing competition from Trotter of the NDP, a man with one less vowel in his surname.

It’s a campaign fluke that Conservatives aren’t losing any sleep over.

Trottier’s campaign spokesperson Larry Kent told The Huffington Post Canada the party is taking the “basic assumption” that voters are “intelligent and wise and can separate the two.” He explained that the party is sticking to its campaign strategy by “staying on message.”

He said concerns of possible name confusion really isn’t an issue and hasn’t tripped Trottier’s re-election bid because he’s a “hard worker” and voters are “quite impressed and thrilled to see him at the door.”

He did, however, say that some party members were “amused” when Trotter’s NDP candidacy was announced. Trottier was not available for an interview.

In 2011, vote-splitting helped Trottier win the seat from former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The Conservatives won the riding with 2,869 votes.

Over at the NDP camp, Trotter said he had “no idea” Trottier was the Conservative incumbent when he met him at an Etobicoke church event. That was before he was nominated as a federal NDP candidate. The pair even bonded over their names.

“He thought the French name that was switched to English, but actually it’s Scottish version of it,” Trotter said, adding, “But my mother is French(-Canadian),” Trotter said in an interview.

Like Kent, Trotter said he isn’t concerned about voters mixing up their two names. He also shot down any conjecture his candidacy is a ruse to steal votes. The immigration lawyer said any accusation of stealing votes would run both ways.

“I’m definitely not counting on that to win — and never was,” he said, acknowledging his name would come first on the ballot.

“What if in the end I did win by 50 votes — could it be that 50 of those votes were seniors who didn’t read carefully, or whatever the case. Maybe. But that could go either way.”

Coming into the riding as a contender, Trotter shared a tagline he’s come up with to differentiate himself from his Conservative competitor.

“What I sometimes say at the door, jokingly, is that ‘Trottier has an ‘i’ in it, and the NDP is more about ‘we’ and less about ‘I’,” he said. “The signs are up, too. People can see. Phil Trotter signs are right next to the Bernard Trottier signs. One is blue, one is orange.”

But according to polling data collected by Forum Research in September, both Trottier and Trotter should keep their attention on Liberal candidate James Maloney. The random sample surveyed 835 voters in the riding.

Maloney, a former Toronto city councillor, was picked by the party in May after lawyer Susan Watt quietly resigned her spot.

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