Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives knew long before the election campaign began that any hope of forming the country’s next government would have to start in Atlantic Canada.
After the Liberals won all 32 seats here in the four Eastern Provinces in 2015, the Conservatives gained a foothold in the east in the 2019 federal election – taking back four seats, and a further six in 5 races. Lost by a margin of less than a percentage.
This set the stage for an intense fight for support, this time in Atlantic Canada, with frequent visits to the region by major party leaders and federal campaigns focusing on local issues such as highway bypasses, doctor shortages and fisheries regulation. did. It also made bets in many riding In which the Liberals and Tories appeared in the scorching heat.
The Conservative Party’s efforts helped them gain ground in an area where Tory candidates were leading or were elected to nine seats on election night, more than double their total, although the Liberals still held the majority of seats. was captured.
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Including the South Shore-St. Margaret’s in Nova Scotia, where Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan was defeated by the Conservatives’ Rick Perkins, in a ride where liberals were facing anger from Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen for the party’s handling of the livelihood fisheries issue.
The Tories took Cumberland-Colchester of Nova Scotia away from Liberal MP Lenore Zahn, who won in 2019 by just 453 votes. The Conservative candidate, local family doctor Stephen Ellis, was able to seize on concerns about health care – a key concern in many parts of rural Atlantic Canada, where doctor shortages and hospital closures have caused Progressive Conservatives. helped win Nova Scotia’s provincial election last month.
In New Brunswick, the Conservatives also won at Miramichi-Grand Lake, where two former provincial cabinet ministers faced off, and they claimed victories in Newfoundland and Labrador off the coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame. Both rides were previously organized by the Liberals.
The margin for error in the crucial rides in Atlantic Canada was small, yet any party hoping to form a government had to win them, said J.P. Lewis, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Brunswick in St. John’s.
On several of his visits to the region, Mr. O’Toole asked voters to give the Conservatives another chance, and he focused on concerns about rising housing prices and a lack of federal health care funding – an issue that has been addressed by the Liberals. Leader Justin Trudeau also addressed and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
Although conservatives faced a challenge in 2021, they didn’t have to worry in the 2019 election – a surge in support for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), widely seen driving voters away from the Tories .
“Even if they take a few hundred votes, in some of these tight races, it’s enough to make a difference,” Prof Lewis said.
One race in which the PPC was not a factor was in the university city and provincial capital Fredericton where the party’s candidates failed to file paperwork for the Election Canada deadline. This added an additional complication for Liberal MP Jenika Atwin, the former Green MP who crossed the floor for the Liberals and was trying to retain her seat for her new party.
She was in a race against Conservative Andrea Johnson and law professor Nicole O’Burne, who was hoping to ride in the Greens after Atwin became the party’s first MP elected outside B.C. – leaving Ms Johnson just 1,600. defeated by more votes. in the last election. Ms Johnson and Ms Atwin continued to be neck and neck until Monday night, and it is expected that the final result will not be known until the mail-in ballots are counted.
Meanwhile, the NDP was trying to capture its only seat in Atlantic Canada, in St. John’s East in Newfoundland and Labrador. NDP MP Jack Harris chose not to run again after being diagnosed with cancer, and the party chose Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labor, to replace her. She lost to Joan Thompson of the Liberals
The NDP focused on health care, promising a dramatic expansion of services covered by the government. Riding where the party narrowed the gap was in Halifax, where Liberal MP Andy Fillmore was in a close race with Lisa Roberts, a former provincial NDP legislator.
The Liberals also promised big funding for the sector, including recent multi-year affordable child care deals with PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador worth more than $1 billion.
In July, the Trudeau government signed a $5.2 billion deal to help Newfoundland and Labrador cover costs that have plagued the Muscat Falls hydroelectric project — a bailout that would keep hydroelectric rates down in the province.