Tories paint Cape Breton blue, with slivers of Liberals and NDP
Cabinet minister Michel Samson lost his seat to Progressive Conservative Alana Paon
Cape Breton turned blue overnight as a number of Liberals lost their seats and others squeaked by, beating their rivals by a small percentage of votes.
In Victoria-The Lakes, Liberal Pam Eyking was badly beaten by Progressive Conservative Keith Bain, who took back the seat he formerly held for several years. Bain won by more than 2,400 votes.
Liberal MLA Michel Samson lost his seat by 20 votes to Progressive Conservative Alana Paon in the riding of Cape Breton-Richmond. In 2013, Samson took 50 per cent of the vote.
"I truly believe from speaking with people on the doorstep and at different events that they really felt that their voice was not being represented any longer by Mr. Samson," said Paon. "That some people's interests were being represented a little bit more than others."
In a surprisingly close contest, the Glace Bay seat of cabinet minister Geoff MacLellan was uncertain until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. MacLellan finally defeated teacher John White by less than 400 votes. In 2013, MacLellan walked away with 80 per cent of the vote.
MacLellan said he is going to do his best to figure out why the vote was so close this time.
"If I can be better, if I can do better, do more," he said, "I'm certainly willing to do so."
'People want action,' says Mombourquette
The riding of Sydney-Whitney Pier was also a nail biter, going back and forth between Liberal incumbent Derek Mombourquette and NDP challenger Madonna Doucette. Mombourquette won the seat by 142 votes. In 2013, he beat Doucette by almost 1,500 votes.
Mombourquette said he knew the race would be close.
"Health care seemed to emerge as the issue in the community here. People want action. They want to hear the plan," he said.
In Cape Breton Centre, Liberal incumbent David Wilton lost his seat to the NDP's Tammy Martin. In 2013, Wilton beat Martin by 500 votes — but this time she easily took the seat by several hundred votes. Martin said she was also hearing concerns about health care.
"Between the doctor shortages and our doctors actually speaking out — you know we are in trouble when we've got doctors speaking out against their employer," she said.
Incumbents come back
A number of Progressive Conservative incumbents were expected to keep their seats and did so.
Longtime Tory MLA Alfie MacLeod trounced Liberal challenger Katherine MacDonald in Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg, taking 67 per cent of the vote and winning by more than 4,000 votes. MacLeod was first elected in 1995.
Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster received almost double the votes of his closest rival Liberal Bobby Morris. MacMaster first won the seat in 2009.
And Northside-Westmount PC Eddie Orrell had the first win of the night, earning his seat back with 63 per cent of the votes cast.