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Besting his father: Trudeau leaves impression on Atlantic Canada

HALIFAX – A Liberal-red tide started across Newfoundland and Labrador and swept through Atlantic Canada on Oct. 19, taking down several Conservative and NDP seats.

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be at the Amherst branch of the Royal Canadian Legion on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in support of candidate Bill Casey.

Back in 1968, when Pierre Trudeau became prime minister, he only took a handful of seats in the region. Of the 32 seats in Atlantic Canada up for grabs, voters in the almost every riding have voted for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

The political son actually bested his famous dad on the East Coast.

All of The Rock’s seven seats in the House of Commons went handily to the Liberals.

Avalon MP Scott Andrews, who was defeated by Liberal Ken MacDonald, told reporters he was finished with politics for the time being.

“You will not see my name on a ballot any time soon,” Andrews told The Compass newspaper on election night. “My 23 years of politics have come to close tonight and I’ve got some family commitments and other things I’m going to spend more time on.”

In the country’s least populous riding of Labrador, former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue was hoping to take back the seat from Liberal MP Yvonne Jones. She won with over 70 per cent of the vote. Penashue was a distant third, behind the NDP.

A strong Liberal showing isn’t necessarily surprising, noted Dr. Peter McKenna, a political science professor at UPEI. But the degree in which they’ve won is striking.

“Look at Egmont where the Liberals defeated Gail Shae with nearly 50 per cent of the vote,” said McKenna. “These are not close races, these are substantial majorities voting Liberal. They’re running away with it in the region. It’s a Liberal tsunami.”

In Nova Scotia, Liberal Sean Fraser was elected in Central Nova, a seat formerly held by Conservative heavyweight Peter McKay, who decided not to run.

“This is very much more of a competitive election compared to previous years,” said Dr. Wayne Hunt, a professor of political science at Mount Allison in Sackville, N.B. “One of the metrics that was repeated ad naeuseum was that seven of ten Canadians were ready for change.”

NDP stalwarts in the Halifax metro region succumbed to their Liberal opponents. Megan Leslie, Robert Chisholm and Peter Stoffer, who has been an MP since 1997, will not be returned to the House of Commons.

When the Liberal Party forms a governement, at least one MP elected in the Maritimes will be in the cabinet.

“Dominique LeBlanc is a strong candidate for the cabinet,” said Hunt. “He’s personally and strategically close to Justin.”

Scott Brison, a former Progressive Conservative-turned-Liberal in 2003, was handily re-elected in Kings-Hants. Trina Norman, 58, a voter from Mantua, N.S. who voted in Kings-Hants was pleased to see him returned to the House of Commons.

“Scott is not only our MP, but a friend as well,” said Norman. “I think he can do great things for us here. We need infrastructure renewal to create jobs not just in the Atlantic Provinces but also across this country.”

Regardless of the outcome, Dzevad Imocanin in Gander told The Beacon newspaper that there are more important things in life than election outcomes.

“I’ve lived in Canada for 16 years now and it’s a great country. Regardless of who wins it will stay the same – a great country.”

The last time the Liberal Party did this well in Atlantic Canada was in 1993 when Jean Chretien won 31 seats.

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