HALIFAX — Atlantic Canada's once monochromatic electoral map, awash in Liberal red since 2015, was getting a makeover Monday as early results from the federal election rolled in.
Four years ago, voters across the region handed Justin Trudeau's Liberals all 32 of the region's seats, which meant the party had nowhere to go but down in the four easternmost provinces.
In Newfoundland, where the polls closed 30 minutes before anywhere else, the Liberals won six of the province's seven seats, but the NDP broke the Liberal grip on the region by winning St. John's East.
NDP politician Jack Harris defeated lawyer Nick Whalen, who was elected in 2015 by less than 700 votes. A small crowd of supporters cheered as Harris's projected win flashed across the screen at the Johnson Geo Centre in St. John's, where Harris and fellow NDP candidates were expected later in the evening.
Harris served as leader of the province's New Democratic Party from 1992 until 2006, and he also served as the MP for St. John's East in 1987-88 and again from 2008 until 2015.
Even though the Liberals had maintained a lead in the opinion polls in Atlantic Canada since June, Andrew Scheer's Conservatives were counting on victories in traditionally Tory ridings in the Maritimes. Their first breakthroughs came in the New Brunswick ridings of Tobique-Mactaquac and New Brunswick Southwest, where Conservative candidates Richard Bragdon and John Williamson were declared elected, respectively.
In Nova Scotia, the Liberals were facing challenges in five ridings where popular incumbents stepped down before the campaign began — among them former Tories Scott Brison and Bill Casey. In three of those ridings, the Tory challengers are well-known former provincial politicians.
During the last week of the campaign, Trudeau travelled to three Nova Scotia ridings: the former NDP stronghold of Halifax and the northern ridings of Cumberland-Colchester and Central Nova — both former Tory strongholds.
In New Brunswick, the Conservatives were banking on a return to traditional voting patterns, particularly in southern districts where the English-speaking majority has typically voted Conservative.
In northern New Brunswick and along the Acadian shore, where French-speakers dominate, the Liberals were expected to hold on to several safe seats, including Beausejour, held by cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc since 2000, and Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, held by Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
In Prince Edward Island, the Conservatives are hoping the riding of Egmont in the western part of the province will once again turn Tory blue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.
— With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John's