HALIFAX — The Liberals held command over Atlantic Canada in Monday’s election as they won a majority of ridings across the region, and led in the two seats where a winner hadn’t been determined.
The Liberals took several high-profile seats held by New Democrats or Conservative cabinet ministers.
Conservative Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, first elected to the House of Commons in 2008, lost her seat in the P.E.I. riding of Egmont to Liberal Robert Morrissey, a former member of the provincial legislature.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt also lost in his New Brunswick riding of Madawaska-Restigouche.
The Liberals claimed all 11 seats in Nova Scotia, including the riding of Halifax held by deputy NDP leader Megan Leslie.
Political scientist Don Desserud said he believes Atlantic Canadians cast their ballots strategically to bolster the Liberals’ chances of forming government and defeating the Conservatives.
“People who did not want the Conservatives to win were looking at the NDP as serious contenders,” he said from Cornwall, P.E.I.
“When that stopped being as obvious a factor nationally … that picked up the support for the Liberals and then you see this massive move in that direction.”
Desserud said incumbents like Leslie, a well-liked MP both in Halifax and at the national level, shouldn’t take the loss too personally.
“Everybody seems to like her,” said Desserud, who teaches at the University of Prince Edward Island. “I have to assume it has nothing to do with her. It’s just basically people saying, ‘We need to be absolutely sure that the Conservatives lose and this is the only way we can do it.’ ”
The Liberals also nabbed the longtime Conservative stronghold of Central Nova, previously held by former Tory cabinet minister Peter MacKay, with the election of Sean Fraser. The Tories had hoped former Stephen Harper adviser Fred Delorey would be a successor to MacKay, who had held the riding since 1997 before leaving politics earlier this year.
Elsewhere in the province, Bill Casey — a former Conservative turned Independent MP — easily won his seat for the Liberals in Cumberland-Colchester, taking over from incumbent Tory Scott Armstrong.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Liberals took at least six of the province’s seven seats including one formerly held by a New Democrat.
NDP incumbent Ryan Cleary lost out to Liberal and former CTV host Seamus O’Regan in the riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.
The Liberals also held onto the riding of Avalon, but this time with candidate Ken McDonald, the mayor of Conception Nay South. Incumbent Scott Andrews left the Liberal party following allegations of sexual harassment involving a New Democrat MP and ran in the election as an independent.
Yvonne Jones has also held onto her seat in Labrador, a riding she easily won in a 2013 byelection following the resignation of Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue over illegitimate campaign expenses.
Melanie Patten, The Canadian Press