How Justin Trudeau's Liberal majority swept across Canada
Canadians swing from Harper's 'strong, stable' Conservative majority to a truly national Liberal one
The Liberal Party sent to the woodshed in 2006 — and told, decisively, to stay there in 2008 and 2011 — has been welcomed back to the government side of the House of Commons.
Not just conditionally invited, but embraced, with a bigger, broader majority than pollsters or even the most optimistic Liberal strategists predicted.
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Surprising as it might have seemed at first, the majority streamed in from both old and new directions on Monday night, built on foundations from governments past, but supported with fresh seats from places unaccustomed to voting for Trudeau's party in recent memory.
No worries about building a properly representative national cabinet for this new prime minister: every province and all three territories are sending at least one Liberal to the 42nd Parliament.
Atlantic Canada sweep
The flood of red seats rose first in the East, a region pollsters had predicted would favour the Liberals, but not in this magnitude. Only Liberals were left standing.
Outgoing cabinet minister Peter MacKay's Central Nova riding went Liberal by the kind of margin MacKay used to enjoy as a Conservative. He called it a "sea of change."
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"We're used to high tides here in Atlantic Canada. This is not what we had hoped for at all," MacKay said on the CBC News election special. "People were looking for something different."
Lost in the tide were NDP team anchors like Nova Scotia's Megan Leslie, the party's deputy leader, and Peter Stoffer, viewed as one of the most popular, constituency-first MPs on the Hill.
But when even faithful New Brunswick Conservative seats turned red, the hints of broad change truly materialized.
"When people wanted to change the Harper government in Atlantic Canada they saw a dynamic, new-generation leader with new ideas, who was positive," said Liberal Dominic LeBlanc, a longtime family friend of Trudeau's dating back to their fathers' political careers, and likely to be a senior New Brunswick cabinet minister.
Francophone Quebec returns
Liberals breezed to victory on their traditionally friendly turf on the Island of Montreal, even giving NDP Leader Tom Mulcair a bit of a scare in Outremont earlier in the evening.
But perhaps the most extraordinary story of the Trudeau majority is a return to the kind of support his father Pierre used to pull in Quebec. Francophones, always an integral part of a credible national government, have, if not forgotten, then at least forgiven past Liberal sins. Compared with the 2015 alternatives, they've decided to sign back on.
The much-discussed three- and four-way races anticipated in Quebec appeared to break often in the Liberals' favour, with 40 seats in total, more than three-quarters of which represented gains — much more support than the party enjoyed during its previous Liberal governments under Jean Chrétien in the '90s, when the Bloc Québécois held a lock on the vast majority of francophone seats.
The BQ staged a modest but incomplete comeback: its 10 seats going forward are more than its four after 2011, and two at dissolution, but leader Gilles Duceppe's personal comeback failed in his downtown Montreal riding, and the party still won't have official party status in the Commons.
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The New Democrats' orange wave of 2011 — which came at the expense of the BQ — crashed across Quebec in 2015, with all but 16 of the 58 seats won then slipping from their hands.
Former leader and party elder Stephen Lewis said he thought the niqab controversy did real damage in Quebec.
"It's a testament to Tom Mulcair, he didn't move, he showed he had real integrity and principle, but somewhere, somewhere, we went slightly off the rails," Lewis said.
On a rough night elsewhere in Canada, the Conservative campaign's relative emphasis on the ridings around Quebec City earned it modest success, with its best-ever finish during Stephen Harper's tenure: 12 seats.
Fortress Ontario's red bricks
Jean Chrétien's majority governments in the '90s were built around Ontario —most famously, his 101-seat-strong Ontario caucus after the 1997 vote.
Pollsters forecast a strong performance and the Ontario returns did not disappoint: 80 seats at the end of the night, in comparison with the Conservatives' 33 and the NDP's eight.
Trudeau's caucus is not only urban and stretches far beyond Toronto — although as expected, the Greater Toronto Area did overwhelmingly swing to Liberal candidates, at the expense of Tory cabinet ministers like Joe Oliver and Julian Fantino.
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Former finance minister Jim Flaherty's Whitby seat also switched sides.
NDP veterans like Peggy Nash and Olivia Chow failed to buck the current of progressive voters decamping en masse.
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"They have received a clear mandate to govern from the people of Canada," said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who personally endorsed Trudeau and is expected to benefit politically from the federal party's election in key areas like pension reform.
"I look forward to working in co-operation with our new federal partner," Wynne said in a statement, as Trudeau's seat count exceeded her provincial majority tally from 2014.
Winnipeg, Calgary breakthroughs
While rural seats across the Prairies remained elusive for the Liberals, the future cabinet will not be built without the West.
The city of Winnipeg marched decisively into the fold, contributing six urban seats to a Prairie caucus — with close to the number of MPs from the West his father enjoyed when Justin was born in the early '70s.
Saskatchewan's Ralph Goodale, a former finance minister likely to return to the Commons front row, remains a lone strawberry in the blueberry patch of Saskatchewan's seat count, although the NDP had small breakthroughs in Saskatoon West and the province's northern seat.
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Highly symbolic victories in urban Alberta also boost the regional credibility of Trudeau's future government.
The large rallies in Edmonton and Calgary in the campaign's dying days are now explained: not only Anne McLellan's former seat in downtown Edmonton and a second, late squeaker of a win in Edmonton Mill Woods, but also two (nearly three) ridings in Calgary have broken the stereotype and parted from the Conservatives.
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Helped by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi's enthusiasm for positive, inclusive politics, the Liberals found the progressive, urban Albertan audience they always hoped lay dormant through their long exile from Canada's energy heartland.
Greater Vancouver's final wave
Trudeau may feel a sense of personal pride at having his party now represent once more his maternal grandfather Jimmy Sinclair's seat of North Vancouver, the site of his final rally and the place he calls his "second home."
Eighteen seats in B.C., covering plenty of new ground in Greater Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, sealed the deal for his majority.
And up the Fraser Canyon and skipping over to Kelowna, rookie Liberals are heading to Ottawa.
Only on Vancouver Island — where a NDP sweep was averted only by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's seat — were the Liberals thwarted.
Nevertheless, B.C. divided its loyalties across all three main federal parties, with the Conservatives retaining some strength in the centre and north of the province.
But by the end of the night, Conservative strength in Greater Vancouver had slipped over the horizon, with only a couple of suburban seats spared in the sunset's red glow.