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Regional analysis: Atlantic Canada

Halifax
Written by
Director, Public Affairs

Adam Langer

Director, Public Affairs

Written by
Consultant, Public Affairs

Sarah Brannen

Consultant, Public Affairs

Three of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces have held elections in the last two years. New Brunswick and Newfoundland re-elected their governments, New Brunswick being promoted to majority status. In Nova Scotia, voters decided that the Progressive Conservatives will form a majority government during the August 17 provincial election.

The Atlantic provinces have weathered the pandemic with lower case counts than elsewhere in Canada, but frequent and abrupt lockdown measures have created challenges to small businesses and tourism. The pandemic also placed a spotlight on current challenges with access to high-speed Internet in rural areas and access to affordable childcare. Currently, NL, NS and PEI have signed on to the federal childcare agreement with NB signing a bilateral agreement on early childhood education.

The pandemic also created strong regional cooperation within the Atlantic region with the creation of the "Atlantic Bubble," in the summer of 2020. However, disagreements between the former Liberal Premier in NS and the PC Premier in New Brunswick resulted in one side of the border opening before the other on two occasions and subsequent confusion communicating rules to citizens.

Seat distribution

  • Liberal: 27
  • Conservative: 4
  • New Democratic: 1

5 ridings to watch

1. Fredericton

  • Incumbent: Jenica Atwin (LPC)
  • Primary challenger: Andrea Johnson (CPC)
  • Character: Urban

After a narrow win for the Greens in a three-way race in 2019, MP Jenica Atwin crossed the floor from the Green Party to the Liberals just two months prior to the election call. The Conservatives were only 3 points behind in 2019, and the Liberals had lost major ground compared to 2015. The major question will be what happens to the Green Party support?

2. Sydney—Victoria

  • Incumbent: Jaime Battiste (LPC)
  • Primary challenger: Eddie Orrell (CPC)
  • Character: Suburban/Rural

MP Jaime Battiste won a close victory over long-time MLA Eddie Orrell in 2019 to continue the streak of Liberal representation to over two decades. One of the major factors in securing Battiste’s win was a strong independent candidate who garnered over 5,600 votes, most of which were likely at Orrell’s expense. Orrell is challenging Battiste again but this time without an independent candidate taking his support. This seat may be a challenge for the Liberals to hold.

3. Miramichi—Grand Lake

  • Incumbent: Pat Finnigan (LPC) (not running)
  • Primary challenger: Jake Stewart (CPC)
  • Character: Rural/Suburban

MP Pat Finnigan, who was narrowly re-elected by 370 votes in 2019, is not re-offering this time around, setting the stage for a battle between two provincial MLAs. Liberal Lisa Harris will square off against Conservative Jake Stewart. Both candidates are former provincial cabinet ministers. The riding was the closest in all of Atlantic Canada in 2019, and likely will remain close this time around.

4. Cumberland—Colchester

  • Incumbent: Lenore Zann (LPC)
  • Primary challenger: Stephen Ellis (CPC)
  • Character: Rural

Once a long-time Conservative stronghold, the riding eventually went Liberal when popular former MP Bill Casey, who resigned from the Conservative Party and won the riding as an independent in 2008, ran for the Liberals in 2015 against incumbent Scott Armstrong. When Mr. Casey didn’t re-offer in 2019, Armstrong challenged for the seat again, this time against former NDP MLA Lenore Zann, who won by just over 400 votes.

5. St. John’s East

  • Incumbent: Jack Harris (NDP) (not running)
  • Primary challenger: Joanne Thompson (LPC)
  • Character: Urban/Suburban

MP Jack Harris, who in 2019 regained the seat he lost to Liberal Nick Whalen, announced earlier this year that he would not be running. The NDP has nominated Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall to go up against Liberal candidate Joanne Thompson. The Liberals are hoping that the retirement of very popular MP Harris will give them a shot at reclaiming the seat.

Wild cards

Moderate livelihood fishery in Nova Scotia: The launch of the moderate livelihood fishery in Nova Scotia will be a contentious issue for Liberal candidates, including Nova Scotia MP and Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan.

Equalization: Given Alberta’s referendum on equalization, O’Toole and Conservative candidates may be pressured to speak on a matter that is important to all four Atlantic provinces.

Consult our 2021 Federal Election section to get the latest perspectives from our experts.

Other regional analyses:

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Written by François Crête | Marc Desmarais | Guillaume Fillion

Regional analysis: Quebec
August 30, 2021