EDMUNDSTON, N.B. — New Brunswick’s political map turned red Monday night as the province reflected a surge of support for the Liberals that was felt right across Atlantic Canada.
Before the election, the Conservatives held eight of the province’s 10 seats while the Liberals and New Democrats each had one.
The Liberals won nine seats late Monday night and were leading in the only riding where the outcome was still in doubt.
Not since former Liberal premier Frank McKenna’s 58−0 rout of the provincial election in 1987 has there been such a dramatic change in the province’s political stripe.
Among those to go down to defeat was Bernard Valcourt, the minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development. He was in third in Madawaska−Restigouche where he might have faced a backlash over his support for the Harper government’s changes to Employment Insurance.
Speaking to a group of two dozen supporters at an Edmundston hotel, Valcourt said he felt great, despite the loss.
“You accept the decision of the people, and the people are never wrong,” he said.
“I’m a lawyer by trade and when a jury comes in with its verdict you accept the results but you have the right of appeal, and in this case the appeal will be the next election.”
Asked if the results in Atlantic Canada were a vote against Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Valcourt said that was a question for voters and not one he would answer.
Among the Conservative MPs to lose were Keith Ashfield, who was seeking a third term in the bellwether riding of Fredericton. The former federal fisheries minister excused himself from cabinet in June 2013 to battle the first of two bouts with cancer, but earlier this year he announced the cancer was in remission.
Liberal Matt DeCourcey will be the new MP for Fredericton.
Conservative incumbent Robert Goguen won Moncton−Riverview−Dieppe in 2011, the first time a Conservative had captured the riding in 23 years, but lost to the Liberals’ Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
The Liberals also won in the important riding of Saint John−Rothesay. Wayne Long rode the Liberal wave to victory. The popular businessman gained a lot of support in the riding by voicing his support for the proposed Energy East pipeline, which would create jobs with a proposed export terminal in Saint John.
New Democrat Yvon Godin chose not to seek re−election in the riding of Acadie−Bathurst after holding the seat since 1997. The riding had traditionally been a Liberal stronghold before that and returned to the party fold as Serge Cormier held off a challenge from NDP candidate Jason Godin, the mayor of Maisonette.
Conservative John Williamson was seen as a strong bet to win New Brunswick Southwest but fell to Liberal Karen Ludwig.
Conservative Rob Moore, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and regional minister for New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador in the last government, was in a tighter battle in Fundy Royal against Liberal Alaina Lockhart.
T.J. Harvey captured the traditionally Conservative riding of Tobique−Mactaquac where incumbent Tory Mike Allen did not run for re−election.
And in Beausejour, Dominic LeBlanc dominated with his sixth win, and maintained the Liberal hold on a riding that was held for years by his father Romeo LeBlanc, who served in the cabinet of Pierre Trudeau.
Voter turnout was reported as steady across the province Monday.
According to Elections Canada, just over 113,000 of the 570,000 eligible voters in New Brunswick cast their ballots during the advance polls, an increase from about 71,000 who voted early in 2011.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press