Red tide sweeps across the Maritimes
Published Tuesday, October 20, 2015 7:38PM ADT
The red tide that swept Justin Trudeau to power began in the Maritimes, with every seat in the three provinces being represented by a Liberal.
There were three significant upsets for the NDP in the Halifax area. Peter Stoffer, Megan Leslie, and former provincial party leader Robert Chisholm all lost their seats.
“I suspect very well that the people wanted change,” said Stoffer. “I didn't think they'd change me, but that's alright.”
“This was not the result we were looking for, there's no question about that,” said Chisholm.
Chisholm says there was a clear desire for change across Canada.
“People have decided they wanted change, but they decided they would accept ... the change that Trudeau put on the table,” he said.
“If voters decide that that's not what they're going to vote for, they decide for something different, and it looks like here in Atlantic Canada they decided that the voice they want is a Liberal voice and I accept that,” said Leslie.
Even Liberals who defeated them were surprised by the sweep.
“The amount of red on the map was a surprise to me, but I think it goes right back to Trudeau’s vision for Canada and how that’s resonated with people here and across the country,” said Liberal MP-elect Andy Fillmore.
“In 1993 (when) the Blue Jays won the World Series, the province of Nova Scotia turned all red. All 11 candidates and the Liberal Party of Canada won a majority government,” said Liberal MP-elect Darrell Samson.
Liberal MP-elect Matt DeCourcey in Fredericton captured nearly 50 per cent of the votes. He gave partial credit to the anti-Harper push.
“People certainly did want change, but it’s more than just change,” said DeCourcey. “It’s about being ready to step in and provide the type of representation and leadership at the local and federal level.”
All 10 ridings in New Brunswick chose Liberal. Conservative incumbent and former cabinet minister Keith Ashfield was counting on the NDP to take more votes from the Liberals.
“We were looking for a split in this riding, and Matt ran an aggressive campaign and did a good job and we knew we had our hands full so I was a little surprised from that perspective,” said Ashfield.
The NDP lost the one seat they had in New Brunswick going into the campaign.
“I think perhaps a lot of votes were changed on election (day) to make sure they got the results they wanted,” said defeated New Brunswick NDP candidate Sharon Scott-Levesque.
Egmont, P.E.I.’s three-way race ended up being not even close, as Fisheries Minister Gail Shea lost to the Liberal’s Bobby Morrissey by more than 4,000 votes.
Shea was a popular candidate heading into election day, but she says the move for change was too much.
“When you're going for your fourth mandate, it's always difficult because you know people have gotten used to seeing the same faces, so I think there was a mood for change,” said Shea.
Liberal Sean Casey won his second term in Charlottetown, Liberal Wayne Easter kept his seat in Malpeque, and 27-year Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay received his ninth-straight win.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil sees the win as an opportunity for provinces and the prime minister to work together.
“The fact that we have such a strong group of Liberal MPs will help us put our agenda on the national scene,” said McNeil.
New Brunswick Liberal Premier Brian Gallant downplayed any partisan gusto for Trudeau, but is envisioning a better working relationship with Ottawa.
“(Trudeau) wants to work with us, and that’s all we can ask,” said Gallant. “As long as we have somebody that sincerely wants to do what they can do to help New Brunswick, the whole country coast-to-coast, that’s a great starting point.”
Political scientist Tom Bateman says the Conservative defeat in many New Brunswick ridings will make for an even more interesting election in four years’ time.
“Election campaigns matter more now than they used to, and so that volatility means there are fewer and fewer safe seats in this country,” said Bateman. “We've had some really safe seats for the Conservatives in New Brunswick. Not anymore.”
Dalhousie University sociology professor Howard Ramos says there was definitely strategic voting in place.
“What ended up happening is in the debates, Mulcair as a leader didn't distinguish himself as the agent of change, and Trudeau was better able to encompass that,” said Ramos.
He says the size of the Liberal majority, even getting into majority territory, is in large part because of the way Atlantic Canadians voted.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster, Nick Moore and Kayla Hounsell.