Canada Votes 2015

Red sweep: Trudeau’s Liberals win majority government

The Harper era comes to an end, while the NDP returns to third-party status
Photo: Joseph Morris

The Liberal sweep of the Atlantic region was a sign of things to come: a majority government with Justin Trudeau at its head.

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While Quebec votes were being counted, and before the polls had even closed on the Pacific coast, news networks were confidently predicting a Liberal victory. Before 10 p.m. EDT both CTV and CBC had already called a Liberal government.

Much credit will go to Justin Trudeau, whose leadership moved the party from third to first in Parliament. In 2011, the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff suffered their worst defeat, gaining only 34 seats.

“We’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do.”

In his electoral speech, Trudeau emphasized the victory of positive over negative and divisive politics, offering conciliatory words to Muslims, newcomers, and those aspiring to join the middle class. He also made a strong pledge to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples.

“You want a prime minister that knows that a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples that respects rights and honours treaties must be the basis of how we work to close the gap and walk forward together.”

Trudeau becomes the first son of a former prime minister to take the office, following in his father Pierre Trudeau’s footsteps.

Defeat of prominent NDP and Conservative candidates

“Tonight’s results are certainly not the one we hoped for,” said Stephen Harper from his riding in Calgary, but “the people are never wrong.”

“This is the Canada we have been building since the time of Sir John A. MacDonald.”

He made no mention of stepping down as Conservative party leader, but a separate statement was released indicating his intention to resign.

Across the country the Liberals managed to defeat prominent NDP and Conservative MPs, exceeding almost all projections. Throughout the first month of the marathon 11-week election campaign, the Liberals were stuck in third place in most public opinion polls.

In Atlantic Canada, Jack Harris, Peter Stoffer, and Megan Leslie lost their seats for the NDP. Bernard Valcourt, Aboriginal affairs minister for the Conservatives, also lost his seat.

In Ontario, the NDP’s Peggy Nash and Paul Dewar failed to get re-elected. Olivia Chow’s bid to return to Parliament for the NDP was unsuccessful, as Liberal Adam Vaughan held onto his seat. Chris Alexander, who was severely criticized for blocking the entry of Syrian refugees into the country as the Conservative minister of immigration, was also defeated. Former police chief and Conservative MP Julian Fantino lost his seat as well.

In Winnipeg, the Liberal candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette defeated the NDP’s Pat Martin. The Liberal candidate in Nunavut, Hunter Tootoo, unseated Leona Aglukkaq, the Conservative minister of health.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe was defeated by the NDP candidate in his riding.

Harper repudiated

“From the outset this election has been about change,” said NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, speaking in French, during his concession speech. “And tonight Canadians have turned the page on 10 long years and they reject the politics of fear and division.”

Green Party leader Elizabeth May expressed concern about the damage done by Stephen Harper to environmental laws. “We only have 40 days for Canada to get our act together” for the climate conference in Paris, she said. “We’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told CBC News that the election results were “a repudiation of a lot of what we’ve seen over the last several months of this campaign.” The last three months had been marked by “divisiveness” and “rancour,” he said, adding that voters were concerned about issues such as transit, housing, and infrastructure.

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