Federal election latest updates: Conservatives, NDP try to win seats from Liberals in Atlantic Canada

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  • This story will be updated as results roll in, so please refresh. Get live results from across Canada and in your riding here.
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  • The first polls closed in Newfoundland at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the Maritimes at 7:30 p.m. ET. The hugely important battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario take centre stage at 9:30 p.m. ET. B.C.’s polls close at 10 p.m. ET.

The vote counts so far aren’t much higher than a typical basketball score, but results have begun trickling in after polls in the 2021 federal election closed first in Newfoundland and Labrador, then the rest of Atlantic Canada.

An early warning: this could be the start of a long process.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to vote by special ballot (1,267,014 ballots have been mailed out and 951,039 returned as of Sept. 20, according to Elections Canada). That means it could take a while before you know who won and lost, especially in ridings where polling conducted during the 36-day campaign suggests the margin is razor-thin.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake in the four Atlantic provinces:

N.L. results first up as Liberals hope Rock stays red

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau bumps elbows with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey earlier this summer. Furey is making no apologies for endorsing the federal Liberals, despite criticism from the provincial opposition. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Liberals have been able to count on Newfoundland and Labrador to get them off to a good start, and Liberals recently won at the provincial level during another pandemic-era election.

Since taking office, Premier Andrew Furey has praised Justin Trudeau as “an immense friend to the province,” raising the hackles of the opposition who urged Furey to remain neutral.

Where might the Liberals be vulnerable?

The NDP will try to hang on to their lone seat of St. John’s East. Longtime MP Jack Harris held the seat before his retirement, and the party is hoping Mary Shortall can keep it orange.

The Conservatives are hoping to break through and win in Long Range Mountains, on the island’s west coast, where the Liberal incumbent, Gudie Hutchings, saw her vote share drop in 2019.

Conservative eyes on Nova Scotia

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole would love to see Nova Scotia ridings turn blue on Monday night, just like many did in the recent provincial election. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Heading into the election, holding one of 11 seats in Nova Scotia, there are three things that give the Conservatives optimism they’ll make inroads in the province, writes the CBC’s Richard Woodbury. 

  1. Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservatives won the August provincial election, despite starting the campaign way behind in the polls.

  2. The Liberal handling of the moderate livelihood fishery, which saw violence and vandalism erupt in the southwestern part of the province last year. Things have been calmer this year, but the one seat the Conservatives hold is the West Nova riding, which has been ground zero for the dispute. The riding next door? South Shore–St. Margarets — the home of Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. If this riding flips to the Conservatives, it’s an encouraging sign for leader Erin O’Toole.

  3. Holding only one seat means there’s pretty much only to go up.

More than just the mud is red in P.E.I. (usually)

Four seats are at stake on Prince Edward Island.

The province usually votes Liberal, with Egmont the only riding to send a non-Grit to Ottawa since 1988. One definite change is that Wayne Easter will not win. He had won nine straight elections in the riding of Malpeque, but isn’t reoffering.

Can the Green Party win in Fredericton again?

New Brunswick will serve as an early test for the Green Party.

In 2019, Jenica Atwin won Fredericton for the Greens, marking the party’s only win ever outside of B.C. Then she crossed the floor to join the Liberal party.

So, will Fredericton’s voters still consider the Greens with a new candidate, Nicole O’Byrne? Or will the city go back to flip-flopping between the Liberal and Conservative parties?

When will we know the results?

There’s a real chance you’ll go to bed tonight without knowing who won the election.

But you might.

In-person voting at advance polls was way up from 2019, with approximately 5,780,000 votes being cast from Sept. 10-13, according to Elections Canada. 

Also, we’ll see whether there’s a good turnout on election day. What counts as good? Nearly 66 per cent of total eligible voters cast a ballot in 2019, just down from 68.5 per cent in 2015.

In-person ballots can be counted as soon as the polls close (here are the official poll closing times in local time in case you can still dash out to vote), while those special ballots won’t be counted until Tuesday

Our decision desk will keep working until we have answers for you. Send coffee. 

What’s happening at polling stations?

Some Canadian voters waited outside in long lines on Monday while Elections Canada apologized for a technical problem with an application on its website that tells people where they can vote.

Many posted on social media that they were receiving an error while trying to use the voter information service page. They said the error stated: “We were unable to find your voting location. Please call the office of the returning officer for assistance.”

The problem has been fixed.

In Toronto, which has significantly fewer polling stations than in previous years, many stood outside in long lines before casting their ballots. Once inside, however, many told CBC News the process went smoothly.

In Montreal, an accident caused some minor injuries, a police spokesperson said, after a woman lost control of her vehicle and hit people near a polling station in Montreal’s West Island. Const. Caroline Chèvrefils could not provide more details about the driver or the condition of the victims.

The magic number: 170

If you need a refresher on how this whole election thing works, Canada has 338 federal ridings across the country, with most of those seats located in denser parts (think: the Greater Toronto Area).

To win a majority government, a party would need to win more than 170 seats. The Liberals triggered the election holding 155 seats, but would need a strong showing to win back the majority the party lost in 2019. 

The Opposition Conservatives currently have 119 seats in the House of Commons.

Party that wins most seats won’t always govern

There’s one wrinkle here.

As CBC’s Aaron Wherry explained in 2019, a party could win the most seats in the election, but that doesn’t mean its leader will be prime minister — the same holds true today.

Justin Trudeau, as the incumbent prime minister, has the authority to recall Parliament, present a speech from the throne and seek to win the confidence of the House of Commons. With the support of other parties, he could continue as prime minister even if a rival party has more seats than his. 

Of course, if a rival party wins a majority that scenario is out the window. 

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