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P.E.I. stays the course, re-elects four Liberals

Liberal incumbent Sean Casey hugs a supporter at his election viewing party on Oct. 21. Casey held on to his seat in the Charlottetown riding.
Liberal incumbent Sean Casey hugs a supporter at his election viewing party on Oct. 21. Casey held on to his seat in the Charlottetown riding. - Jim Day

All four Liberal MPs to return to Ottawa by sizeable margin

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

P.E.I. voters chose to stay the course with Justin Trudeau’s government on Monday, re-electing all four Liberal incumbents.

Liberal candidates Sean Casey (Charlottetown), Wayne Easter (Malpeque), Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) and Bobby Morrissey (Egmont) will all be returning to Ottawa.

At a Liberal watch party in Charlottetown Monday night, Casey said the show of confidence was due to the experienced representation offered by Liberals over the last four years.

“The fact that the Liberal government has been so good to Charlottetown matters,” Casey told reporters.

Casey said he handed out a pamphlet listing accomplishments of the Liberal government to voters. The leaflet detailed a number of Liberal programs, such as the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit. The program provides a cash payment to parents, and has been credited with lifting thousands of children out of poverty.

Casey brought up other initiatives in Charlottetown he believes resonated with Charlottetown voters.

“Re-opening the Veterans [Affairs] offices, re-opening the Immigration offices, all of those things mattered,” Casey said.

“I had a good message to deliver.”

Casey also credited his opponents in Charlottetown for remaining civil during the campaign. Debates had focused on issues rather than personal attacks.

By 11:30 p.m. with 75 of 77 polls reporting in Charlottetown, Casey had garnered 8,422 votes. Green candidate Darcie Lanthier, who some had suggested was a competitive candidate to Casey, was far behind with 4,400 votes, while Conservative candidate Robert Campbell drew 3,897.

The NDP’s Joe Byrne drew 2,166 votes while Christian Heritage Party candidate Fred MacLeod drew 168.

Across P.E.I., by midnight, Liberal incumbent Lawrence MacAulay had garnered 10,284 votes. The Conservatives’ Wayne Phelan drew 6,040, while Green candidate Glen Beaton drew 2,860. NDP candidate Lynne Thiele drew 1,392 votes while the CHP’s Christene Squires drew 228.

In Malpeque, incumbent Liberal Wayne Easter defeated Green candidate Anna Keenan, drawing 7,733 votes to Keenan’s 5,108. Conservative candidate Stephen Stewart drew 4,803 votes. The NDP’s Craig Nash drew 1,295 votes.

Finally, in Egmont, incumbent Liberal Bobby Morrissey defeated political newcomer Logan McLellan, who ran for the Conservatives. Morrissey drew 7,464 votes to McLellan’s 6,572. Green candidate Alex Clark had drawn 3,690 as of midnight, while the NDP’s Sharon Dunn drew 1,158.

While the victories were decisive for all four Liberal incumbents, the margin of victory for each one was less than 2015. In Egmont, Morrissey faced the closest result. As of 11:55 p.m., Morrissey had gathered 40 per cent of the vote, compared to his Conservative challenger Logan McLellan, who drew 35 per cent of the vote. In 2015, Morrissey had won with close to 50 per cent of the vote.

Casey acknowledged there had been criticism of the Liberal record in P.E.I. He said his key priority would be to address the two-zone Employment Insurance system in P.E.I.

“Unifying the province with respect to EI zones is the major unfulfilled project that I will have my shoulder to the wheel to try and get it right,’’ Casey said.

“It’s something that should have been done before now and I will do my damndest to make sure it’s done before we face the people again.’’

The results were a disappointment for supporters of Elizabeth May’s Green party. Some had expected that support for the provincial Greens seen during last spring’s provincial election would be enough to catapult local federal candidates into office in Ottawa.

Charlottetown candidate Darcie Lanthier assembled a significant operation over the course of the campaign. Buoyed by an influx of resources from the federal party, Lanthier’s team had blanketed Charlottetown with election signs, and had invested heavily in print and radio ads.

But at a Green watch party, Lanthier appeared upbeat.

"We have achieved something that the Green party of Canada has never done on Prince Edward Island. We came in second," Lanthier said, drawing cheers.

"We knew it was a two-way race. We said it all along and we were right."

Across Atlantic Canada, at midnight, the Liberals were elected and leading in 26 districts, while the Conservatives were elected in 4. Both the Greens and the NDP elected one member each.

Green supporters could draw solace in the election of Green candidate Jenica Atwin in Fredericton. Atwin’s win represents a first for the federal party, which has never elected a member outside of British Columbia.

As of midnight, most major networks in Canada had predicted a minority Liberal government.

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