At the back of a cluttered office, Karim Jivraj opens a box of newly delivered campaign pamphlets to see a picture of his youthful face smiling back. At twenty-eight, he is an unlikely candidate to be running for the Conservative Party in Toronto’s University–Rosedale. It’s a riding his own party considers unwinnable, carved from two historically Liberal and NDP enclaves of Toronto Centre and Trinity–Spadina. “I’ve had my eye on federal politics for a while. It’s not like it’s an accident,” he says.
Since January, Jivraj has been on a leave of absence from his job in a corporate law firm, gradually building political support. But before he began wooing wealthy liberal voters, he first had to win the nomination against the Conservative Party’s handpicked candidate, former Toronto District School Board committee member Sabrina Zuniga. After weeks of door-to-door canvassing and speech-making, he won the nomination handily.
… As we make our way from house to house, a Range Rover pulls up to the curb. A man in tennis whites leans over from the driver’s seat. “You know your stuff, you speak very well,” he says to Jivraj. He’s congratulating the candidate on his recent performance at the Rosedale Residents’ Association Candidates Debate, an event Jivraj says is typically a “liberal love-in.” This year, though, he’s made an impression. In a riding the Conservatives feel is a write-off, Jivraj says, he has canvassed relentlessly and attended every possible debate in order to raise his profile.
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