Federal Election 2015: Conservative Gail Shea loses Egmont to Liberal Bobby Morrissey
Morrissey says 'anti-Harper sentiment' helped his campaign
In what was expected to be a tight, three-way race in Egmont and one of the most hotly contested ridings in the country, Liberal Bobby Morrissey has won a huge victory over incumbent Conservative cabinet minister Gail Shea.
Morrissey was declared winner by CBC News, with initial results indicating he took 49.3 per cent of the popular vote. The results won't be made official by Elections Canada for several days.
Shea, who had sought a third term in Egmont, only captured 29 per cent of the votes. In 2011, Shea garnered more than 54 per cent, nearly 4,400 votes over the Liberals.
There's no question there was a strong anti-Harper sentiment.- Liberal Bobby Morrissey
She admitted Stephen Harper's unpopularity worked against her.
"I heard it on the doorsteps, and I expected it to have an impact on the campaign," Shea said.
"You know, Stephen Harper is running for his fourth mandate, so people have an appetite for change, obviously here in Atlantic Canada ... As far as I'm concerned, we have delivered a lot for Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada. But I guess that wasn't top of people's minds."
'My priority is delivering to the people in Egmont'
Harper's changes to employment insurance didn't affect her campaign, said Shea.
"The actual changes to EI that we made will actually put a million dollars more in recipients' pockets here on Prince Edward Island, so it was more the misinformation campaign."
Morrissey, meanwhile, said the Harper factor helped him win.
"One of the things that resonated very well with voters across Egmont was the Liberal Party platform that I was really proud to run on. It spoke to the issues in the riding," he said.
"There's no question there was a strong anti-Harper sentiment and a desire for change, that was a big part of it."
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Morrissey credits his "tremendous campaign team" for his win.
"It's still sinking in. Just an awesome group of volunteers that set an agenda to start and stayed focused on it and knew what our objective was. And we're seeing the results tonight," he said.
"My priority is delivering to the people in Egmont. It's always been my priority."
Backgrounds in provincial politics
Shea served seven years under premier Pat Binns, before switching gears and running federally in 2008. By doing so, she ended a 28-year Liberal reign in the riding and made history by becoming the first P.E.I. woman to be named to the federal cabinet.
Over the years, she has served as minister of several portfolios including fisheries and oceans, national revenue and as head of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Shea decided to run again this year although there was speculation she would retire.
"I gave it a lot of thought because, you know, after six elections, and next year would be 20 years since I first ran in 1996, so that's a long time in politics. It takes a lot away from your family. A lot of time,"
"I thought there was a lot at stake that the other two parties were putting forward in some of the platforms. I guess it's not something that I would choose to run on."
Morrissey, who also got his start in politics on the provincial stage, was first elected to the P.E.I. Legislature in 1982 and served as an MLA for 20 years. In 2000, he left politics to join the private sector.
He was nominated as the Liberal candidate in Egmont in the 2008 election following the retirement of incumbent Liberal MP Joe McGuire. However, he withdrew his candidacy during the campaign.
This time around, he said ending Harper's run was the most important issue for voters. He called employment insurance changes an "attack on the seasonally employed."
NDP candidate Herb Dickieson returned to the political arena after 15 years focusing on his family life and medical practice. Dickieson, who stands as the first and only NDP member to serve in the P.E.I. Legislature, from 1996 to 2000, took 19.2 per cent of the popular vote in today's election.
Artist, playwright and former CBC broadcaster Nil Ling wanted to bring "revolutionary" ideas to the campaign, but didn't expect to win. He received 2.5 per cent of the votes.
With files from the CBC's Kerry Campbell