Nfld. & Labrador

NDP's Jack Harris wins St. John's East, as Liberal incumbents take other 6 N.L. seats

St. John's East was Newfoundland and Labrador's race to watch in this federal election, and it went orange as the sole seat that didn't go to a Liberal incumbent.

A Liberal tide washed over the province, echoing 2015 — but this time with 1 NDP seat

St. John's East NDP candidate Jack Harris beat Liberal candidate Nick Whalen in the 43rd federal election. (Katie Breen/CBC)

NDP candidate Jack Harris won the hotly contested riding of St. John's East, beating incumbent Liberal Nick Whalen for a seat in Ottawa that Harris lost to Whalen in 2015. 

The province's six other ridings have confirmed Liberal incumbent victories:

  • Gudie Hutchings in Long Range Mountains.
  • Scott Simms in Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame.
  • Ken McDonald in Avalon
  • Churence Rogers in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity
  • Yvonne Jones in Labrador.
  • Seamus O'Regan in St. John's South-Mount Pearl. 

Harris arrived at the NDP headquarters in St. John's just after 10:30 p.m. Monday, to thank his volunteers and supporters as well as the voters. 

"I'm very humbled and proud that you have given me the confidence to represent you in our democracy and in Ottawa," he said. 

Harris said he'd been speaking with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was very excited about the local win.

"Let's go forward to build a better country. That's what we're here for, to make life better for people and to build a better country," said Harris. 

Whalen watches results for St. John's East with his family Monday night. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

After learning he'd been defeated, Whalen thanked his team and his competitors. 

"When you step up to the plate against a guy like Jack Harris it's going to be tough. You've got to dig your heels in, you've got to work hard. I mean, this guy is a giant in Newfoundland and Labrador politics and his reputation and loyalty to his community is impeccable," he told reporters. 

"So I'm just glad that last time we were able to pull it out in a magical campaign." 

'Every vote counts'

​​As results from six out of the province's seven ridings started flowing around 9:30 p.m. NT, St. John's East — the most hotly contested race in the province — was noticeably absent.

Volunteers at NDP headquarters in St. John's told CBC News the delay came from a group of young people arriving at a polling station shortly before it closed, needing to be sworn in before casting their ballots.

Polls opened in Newfoundland at 8:30 a.m. NT, 8 a.m. AT for most of Labrador.

But in Natuashish, on Labrador's coast, the Elections Canada crew was unable to get into the community until early Monday morning because of flight delays due to weather conditions, so polls opened later. 

Labrador Conservative candidate Larry Flemming told CBC News on Monday afternoon he filed a complaint with Elections Canada, because he was concerned some people won't be able to vote. 

Robyn King cast her first-ever ballot in a federal election Monday in St. John's. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

First-time voter Robyn King said she wasn't particularly worried about a close race, and voted for what she felt was best.

"I just chose the party that I thought was good for Canada and for our province," she said.

The biggest issue, as far as she's concerned, is climate change — something she felt was lacking in detail in the party platforms.

King wasn't alone; fellow voter Ben Fushell said climate change was the biggest concern for him, too.

"Climate change is my biggest issue. Education, probably, and the future of our grandchildren," Fushell said, adding that he, too, wasn't satisfied with what the parties had to say at the doors on the issue.

Four years, little change

The Liberals swept Atlantic Canada in the 2015 election, including all seven seats in Newfoundland and Labrador. Jones and Hutchings both coasted to victory with more than 70 per cent of the vote in their ridings.

Whalen bested Harris by less than 1.5 percentage points in 2015 — a seat Harris held for the NDP in the 2008 and 2011 elections.

With Newfoundland and Labrador trailing every province and territory other than Nunavut in voter turnout in the last two federal elections, and low turnout in advance polls this time around, it was a concern for this election as well. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen, Peter Cowan, Jacob Barker, Garrett Barry, Troy Turner and Terry Roberts

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