Liberals win 10 out of 11 seats in Nova Scotia, send 4 first-time winners to Ottawa
Jaime Battiste becomes province's first Indigenous MP, former Tory MLA wins West Nova
Four years ago, Sean Fraser was part of a Liberal team that surfed a red wave to a majority government.
There was no wave on Monday night as Fraser faced a star challenger in the form of country musician and Conservative candidate George Canyon. But in the end it didn't matter — Fraser is headed back to Ottawa to represent the riding of Central Nova after pulling in more than 46 per cent of the vote.
"I used to play a lot of basketball growing up and I remember the games where we beat a good team by two a lot more than I remember the ones where we beat up on a small school by 40," he said in a telephone interview.
"And this feels like we beat a good team by a healthy margin. It wasn't just a star candidate. It was tens of thousands of dollars that they poured into Facebook ads, radio ads, TV ads, a visit from the leader. And we pulled it off in any event."
Fraser wasn't the only Nova Scotia Liberal re-elected Monday night, part of an effort that saw the party earn a minority government in the House of Commons.
Andy Fillmore was re-elected as MP for Halifax, Darren Fisher was re-elected in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour and Darrell Samson will return as MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook.
Bernadette Jordan — a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government — will return as MP in South Shore-St. Margarets and Geoff Regan, perhaps the surest electoral bet in Nova Scotia, returns as MP for Halifax West.
Fisher said he was humbled by his second victory, as well as by the 100 volunteers who greeted him as he arrived at a victory party.
"It's an overwhelming feeling when you run for election and you see the effort and the work that's put in by people that care about you, but also people that care about their community," he said.
Jordan said she was thrilled by her win.
"We're going to have a good night tonight and then tomorrow we'll start all over again," she said.
Fillmore said he took nothing for granted during the campaign.
"I'm just ecstatically grateful for the people of Halifax to send me to Ottawa to represent them for another term."
Conservatives take West Nova
While the Liberals won all 11 Nova Scotia ridings in 2015, they didn't run the table this year.
Former Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d'Entremont flipped the traditional swing riding of West Nova back to the Conservatives.
Provincially, d'Entremont has been used to easy wins. Monday was much more hard-fought, with just a few percentage points separating him from Liberal challenger Jason Deveau.
"There's a lot more work that goes into this, but I can tell you over the last few hours I think I've never been more stressed," d'Entremont said in a phone interview.
As the dust settles on the election, d'Entremont said he's hoping everyone takes stock of the campaign and tries to dial back the rhetoric that, at times, was nasty all across the country.
"I'm going to try my best to work around, I would say, that mean-spiritedness that goes amongst all the parties," he said.
"I've shown as an MLA that I've been able to work across party lines, that I've gotten things done for my area, and, you know, I really think that we just need to all take a step back and consider what happened during this election."
Historic first win
Jaime Battiste overcame controversy during the campaign related to racist and sexist social media posts from a few years ago to become Nova Scotia's first Indigenous MP and hold Sydney-Victoria for the Liberals, defeating a slate of candidates that included former Tory MLA Eddie Orrell.
The resident of Eskasoni First Nation holds a seat made vacant following the retirement of longtime Liberal MP Mark Eyking. He is also now the first Mi'kmaw MP in the House of Commons.
Battiste said he believes his was the most diverse campaign in the province, focusing on people from all backgrounds.
"I am really happy to be the winner today and I am going to work hard every day to show Canadians, not only Cape Breton, that I won this for a reason," he said.
"I believe in Canada, I believe in reconciliation, I believe in diversity and these are the things I ran on," Battiste said.
Addressing his controversial social media posts, Battiste said all he can do is apologize and move forward.
"I've always been a person who believes in diversity and who believes in equal rights."
Long night for Zann
The last race of the night to be called was also the closest, with Liberal candidate Lenore Zann holding Cumberland-Colchester for the Grits.
Zann topped Conservative candidate Scott Armstrong, himself a former MP for the riding, for a seat that was up for grabs following the retirement of Nova Scotia political legend Bill Casey.
"Wow, what a roller-coaster ride," said Zann, calling it the most fun campaign she's run.
Zann was previously an NDP MLA who resigned to run federally.
Zann said she believes a minority government where the Liberals govern with the support of the NDP and Greens will be healthy for the country.
"In many countries, what we call hung parliaments, or minorities, work very well."
Fresh faces in Ottawa
First-time winner Kody Blois didn't have to wait nearly as long in holding the riding of Kings-Hants for the Liberals.
The young lawyer, running in his first federal election, won the seat that essentially belonged to longtime MP Scott Brison, who announced his retirement from politics earlier this year.
Moments after arriving at what amounted to a victory party, Blois said it was a "surreal" and "incredible" feeling.
They'll be joined in Ottawa by fellow first-time Liberal winner Mike Kelloway, who continues a Liberal hold on the Cape Breton-Canso seat following the retirement of veteran MP Rodger Cuzner. Kelloway bested a field of six other candidates that included former Tory MLA Alfie MacLeod.
Kelloway called for unity in his victory speech.
"No matter what sign you had on your lawn, right now we are all one community and that is the way we will need to move forward," he said.
With files from Preston Mulligan, Jean Laroche, Tom Ayers, Brittany Wentzell and Paul Withers