New Brunswick·Analysis

Justin Trudeau's Liberals dominate in New Brunswick

Liberals swept across New Brunswick’s 10 ridings as voters in the province turned their back on Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in Monday night’s election.

Liberals won all 10 of New Brunswick's seats in Monday's federal election

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced his government would scrap the Conservative government's EI reforms during a campaign stop in Bouctouche. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Liberals swept across New Brunswick's 10 ridings as voters in the province turned their back on Stephen Harper's Conservatives in Monday night's election.

The red wave that covered New Brunswick also spread across the country as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau secured a majority government.

The Liberals started the campaign 78 days ago trailing in third place in national polls and the party held only a single seat in New Brunswick.

But the political ground began to shift in recent weeks and the first evidence that change was coming to the House of Commons was spotted in Atlantic Canada, where the party won all 32 of the region's seats.

Here are six takeaways from the Liberal victory in New Brunswick.

High voter turnout

The unofficial voter turnout level on Monday night in New Brunswick was 74.5 per cent, up from 65.6 per cent in 2011. (CBC)
The strength of the Liberal victory came as more voters made their way to the polls as opposed people staying home.

The unofficial voter turnout level on Monday night was 74.5 per cent, up from 65.6 per cent in 2011, as 439,500 voters came out to the polls.

The strongest voter turnout came in the safest Liberal seat. Liberal Dominic LeBlanc won the riding of Beausejour with 69 per cent of the vote and the voter turnout in the southeastern New Brunswick riding was 80 per cent.

The Liberals also benefited from strong turnout rates in ridings that they did not hold heading into Monday's vote.

Acadie-Bathurst bolted from the NDP caucus after 18 years. Liberal Serge Cormier's victory was aided by the fact 77.2 per cent of voters in the northeastern riding showed up at the ballot box.

Dominic LeBlanc in line for promotion

Liberal candidates Dominic LeBlanc was the only Liberal in New Brunswick for the last four years and will likely be given strong consideration when Trudeau picks his cabinet. (CBC)
When Trudeau begins assembling his inner circle, Beausejour's LeBlanc is likely to play a key role.

LeBlanc was the only Liberal elected in 2011 and in the last four years, he's continued to carry a prominent role in the national party.

LeBlanc convinced Trudeau to travel to his riding to announce the Liberals would overturned the contentious Employment Insurance reforms passed by the Harper government. The Liberal announcement was popular in Beausejour, a riding made up of many seasonal industries.

When the Liberals were last in power, LeBlanc served as a parliamentary secretary. In the last decade, he has carried several large critic roles for the party's different leaders.

Trudeau will have many MPs to choose from for his cabinet, but LeBlanc's name will be at the top of the New Brunswick list for his service.

Liberals win in Tory strongholds

Liberal Alaina Lockhart defeated Conservative Rob Moore in the riding of Fundy Royal on Monday night. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)
The Liberals held only one seat going into the election, so it was inevitable that they were going to make gains based on Trudeau's steady increase in the polls.

What was not as easily forecasted was how the Liberals would also penetrate normally Conservative strongholds.

Fundy Royal is a prime example. The southern riding, which includes Quispamsis, Sussex and many rural communities, has only elected a Liberal once in a century.

Make that two after Liberal Alaina Lockhart knocked off Conservative Rob Moore, who had been Harper's minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and had held the riding since 2004.

She saw her party's support surge by 30.4 per cent over its 2011 levels.

Lockhart's win can be attributed to Moore losing 20 per cent of his vote and the NDP candidate losing another nine per cent of the party's support in 2015, compared to 2011.

The Liberals also scored an unlikely win in New Brunswick Southwest, a riding that has been traditionally a safe Conservative seat.

Liberal Karen Ludwig won 43.9 per cent of the vote compared to Conservative incumbent John Williamson, who earned 38.6 per cent.

The Liberal vote grew by 30.4 per cent over the 2011 levels, while the Tories saw 18 per cent of the party's support evaporate and the NDP also saw a drop of 10.7 per cent.

Another surprise Liberal victory came in Tobique-Mactaquac, where Liberal T.J. Harvey defeated Conservative Richard Bragdon.

This is one of the two ridings in the province that did not have an incumbent because of the retirement of Conservative MP Mike Allen.

Bragdon saw the Tory vote collapse by 25.2 per cent. That support flipped to the Liberals as Harvey saw the party's support jump by 30.4 per cent.

Liberals win back ridings lost in 2011

Liberal candidate Ginette Petitpas Taylor spoke to supporters after she was elected in Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe. (Jen Choi/CBC)
When Harper's Conservatives formed a majority government in 2011, they needed to flip several ridings across the country that were normally held by other parties.

In New Brunswick that included ridings such as Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe and Madawaska-Restigouche.

The northwestern riding of Madawaska-Restigouche changed to the Conservatives in 2011 with the help of Bernard Valcourt, a former Brian Mulroney cabinet minister and former provincial Progressive Conservative leader.

Valcourt, who served as Harper's minister of aboriginal affairs, didn't just lose on Monday, but he dropped to third place behind Liberal René Arseneault and NDP candidate Rosaire L'Italien.

The long-time Tory would not rule out a future run in politics when speaking to reporters from his campaign headquarters.

Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe was another riding that Harper's Tories wrestled away from the Liberals in 2011.

Tory MP Robert Goguen won the riding thanks to a solid performance in 2011 by the NDP. Four years later, the result was not as close.

Liberal Ginette Petitpas Taylor won with 57.8 per cent of the vote, an increase of 27.3 per cent based on 2011, while the Tories share of the vote dropped by 15.3 per cent and the NDP's vote percentage fell by 12.3 per cent.

NDP loses only seat

Serge Cormier celebrates his Liberal win in Acadie-Bathurst, alongside Liberal MLAs Brian Kenny, Denis Landry and Hédard Albert .
For 18 years, the northeastern riding of Acadie-Bathurst bedevilled many political watchers. The NDP's Yvon Godin won the riding in 1997 at a time when many ridings were turning orange to protest cuts from the former Jean Chrétien government.

But Godin continued winning when other New Democrats were losing. Was the riding a safe NDP seat or a Godin stronghold? The results on Monday suggest Godin's close connection to the voters in Acadie-Bathurst is what had kept the riding with the NDP.

Liberal Serge Cormier won with 50.7 per cent of the vote compared to 39.5 per cent for the NDP's Jason Godin, the 22-year-old mayor from the small community of Maisonnette.

The NDP defeat in the riding can be taken into context with many other high-profile New Democrats, such as Nova Scotia MPs Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie, also being ousted by Liberals.

The region had been used to electing Liberals locally in recent campaigns. Northeastern New Brunswick also elected a sea of provincial Liberals in the 2014 election, including several cabinet ministers in Brian Gallant's government.

3 women elected

Fundy Royal Liberal Alaina Lockhart, Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe Liberal Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Fundy Royal Liberal Karen Ludwig all won on Monday. (Redmond Shannon/CBC, Jennifer Choi/CBC, Submitted by Karen Ludwig)
New Brunswick also saw its share of female MPs triple to three from one in the federal election.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Alaina Lockhart and Karen Ludwig were able to win their seats when the votes were counted on Monday.

The only female MP heading into the election was Conservative Tilly O'Neill-Gordon, who lost to Patrick Finnigan in Miramichi-Grand Lake.

This is not a high watermark for female MPs elected in New Brunswick, however. There were three women also elected in 1997.

There were 15 women — or 36.5 per cent — out of the 41 total New Brunswick candidates on the ballot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel McHardie

Digital senior producer

Daniel McHardie is the digital senior producer for CBC New Brunswick. He joined CBC.ca in 2008. He also co-hosts the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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