Liberals fend off major Tory gains in New Brunswick, Greens rejoice on historic night
Liberals hold on to 5 ridings, Conservatives win back 3, and Greens take Fredericton
Four years after the red wave, the electoral map of New Brunswick is on track to be a bit more colourful.
The Liberals held on to to five ridings Monday night, the Conservatives flipped three traditional Tory districts, and the Green Party made history.
Jenica Atwin has become the first federal Green elected in New Brunswick after defeating Liberal incumbent Matt DeCourcey and Conservative challenger Andrea Johnson in the riding of Fredericton.
"I'm just so proud," Atwin said. "Our hard work is paying off."
The capital region elected the first Green provincial MLA in 2014, and the party has ascended in popularity since. Two other Green MLAs were elected in the 2018 provincial election.
On Monday, the party's share of the popular vote in New Brunswick soared from the 2015 federal election, rising to 16.8 per cent from 4.7 per cent, with almost every poll reporting. That's an increase of almost 50,000 votes — the biggest gain by any party in the province.
"They really needed to see what a Green could do before they would trust their vote in this way," Atwin told reporters.
The riding of Miramichi Grand-Lake remained too close to call with 98 per cent of polls reporting. Liberal incumbent Pat Finnigan held a slim 388-vote lead over Conservative challenger Peggy McLean.
Minimizing East Coast losses
The Liberals managed to hold off significant Conservative gains in the province and the country as a whole. CBC News has projected the Trudeau Liberals will maintain its plurality in the House of Commons with a minority government.
Keeping its East Coast losses to a minimum was key to holding on to power.
The party swept all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada in 2015 and managed to secure 24 of the 30 ridings declared so far, including at least half of New Brunswick's 10 ridings.
Liberal cabinet ministers Dominic LeBlanc of Beauséjour and Ginette Petitpas Taylor of Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe were re-elected.
LeBlanc was the first candidate to be declared elected. The longtime MP earned a seventh term even though he didn't campaign in this election.
LeBlanc is recovering in Montreal from a bone marrow transplant.
"I hope to be in a position to return to Beauséjour in the next few weeks," he said in a statement.
"I would much rather be with you all in Shediac this evening. The good news is, I'm going to have a full recovery, and I look forward to seeing you real soon.
Four other Liberal incumbents from New Brunswick will return to Ottawa.
Serge Cormier was re-elected in Acadie-Bathurst, Réné Arseneault secured Madawaska-Restigouche, and Wayne Long earned a second term in Saint John-Rothesay.
"That was a bit of a nail-biter," Long said. "A little closer than I expected."
Liberal support overall in New Brunswick plummeted. Liberal candidates garnered more than 228,000 votes in 2015, good for a 51.6 per cent vote share, but that number fell to 154,776 votes or 37.6 per cent.
The loss in Saint John-Rothesay meant only two of three former Tory MPs vying to retake the seats they lost in 2015 were successful Monday night.
Rob Moore, a cabinet minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper, returned Fundy Royal to the Conservatives, defeating incumbent Alaina Lockhart by more than 8,000 votes. In its 102-year history, the southern New Brunswick district elected a Liberal only twice. In both instances, the MP lasted a single term.
In New Brunswick Southwest, Conservative John Williamson regained his seat and ousted incumbent Karen Ludwig.
Rodney Weston, the Tory candidate challenging Long, failed in his bid to return to Parliament.
Conservative Richard Bragdon also flipped Tobique-Mactaquac for his party after it went Liberal for a single term. T.J. Harvey won the riding in 2015 but announced in February he would not seek re-election.
Waning NDP support
The Greens have firmly supplanted the New Brunswick NDP as the more popular progressive alternative in the province, and it appears that's happened at the federal level.
NDP support in New Brunswick dropped by more than 40,000 votes from 2015. The party secured 18.3 per cent of the provincial vote share in 2015, but only 9.5 per cent this time around.
How to watch the results
An election night special features check-ins with correspondents across the country. It is being broadcast on CBC TV, CBC News Network, Gem, cbcnews.ca, the CBC News App and social media. The CBC Gem coverage has a sign language livestream.
You can also get elections news on CBC Radio One and the CBC Listen App.
With files from Jacques Poitras and Rachel Cave