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Beyond the Ballot: Atlantic Canada

This is part of a series of regional updates by our cross-country team, who are in-jurisdiction experts regarding the on-the-ground dynamic of the Federal Election.

By: Hon. Darrell Dexter (Vice Chair), Glenn Monteith (Senior Associate), and Elaine Larsen, (Senior Consultant).

Party Support

In Atlantic Canada, we can expect a two-party race mainly between the Liberals and Conservatives.

In 2015, the Liberals swept the region and won all 32 ridings. While current polling indicates that the Liberals still have a strong support in the region overall, it is unlikely the Liberals will maintain every seat in Atlantic Canada this time around.

The Conservatives may make gains in New Brunswick and rural Nova Scotia in particular, while the NDP may recapture some seats in metro Halifax and Newfoundland. The Greens may perform well in New Brunswick and PEI, following their growth in the latest provincial elections.


Key Issues

The Atlantic provinces are home to the largest demographic of seniors in Canada. Key issues for them relate to health care and social programs such as veterans’ assistance and seniors support.

For the working demographic, job creation through tourism, research and development, and trade opportunities for the agriculture and forestry sectors are top of mind.

As part of a strategy to maintain seats, the Trudeau government appointed the majority of its Atlantic MPs (many first-timers) to leadership roles such as Minister, Parliamentary Secretary or Committee Chair. The fact is that many of the roles in Cabinet are directly relevant to the needs and key issues of the region. MPs typically leverage these leadership roles to assist with positive name recognition locally and this may contribute to them maintaining their seat(s) in this election. In addition, the Liberal government used to the pre-writ period to make several funding announcements in Atlantic-based ridings facing weakened Liberal support.  These announcements included tourism, pharmacare, and economic development, and the party’s hope certainly remains that voters will reflect on these investments come Election Day.

In the Atlantic provinces, the Conservatives will have the challenge of effectively articulating their views on pharmacare and social program expenditure, given that residents in this region utilize the most federal programs of anywhere in the country. They will aim to recapture traditionally-held Conservative ridings where the party’s pocketbook messaging resonates.

The NDP have historically had an established presence in the region both provincially and federally. The NDP began this campaign with a strong message in support of universal pharmacare, which may resonate well with previous supporters who are disenchanted with the current Liberal government’s performance.

It remains to be seen if the Green Party can win more federal seats here, leveraging support gained in provincial elections in New Brunswick and PEI in which the party positioned itself as an alternative option in addition to doubling-down on environmental issues.


Ridings to Watch

Central Nova (NS)


First-time Liberal MP Sean Fraser won 59% of the vote in 2015. He is challenged by Conservative candidate, high-profile country music singer George Canyon. Central Nova is considered a strong Conservative riding and has been held by the Liberals only twice in the last 40 years.


Cumberland – Colchester (NS)


Voters have supported Bill Casey since 1988. He has run as a Progressive Conservative, Conservative, Independent, and Liberal candidate, winning between 42% – 69% of the vote each election. Now that he is retiring, both parties see the riding as viable.


Cape Breton – Canso (NS)


Long-time Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner is also retiring, which the Conservative Party hopes provides an opening to take this seat. As a result, the Conservatives are allocating resources to this riding, notably by sending leader Andrew Scheer to attend candidate Alfie MacLeod’s campaign launch.


Saint John – Rothesay (NB)


First time Liberal MP Wayne Long is contending for his seat against former Conservative MP Rodney Weston.


Egmont (PE)


Of the four seats in PEI, this one is the one most likely to change. Liberal incumbent Robert (Bobby) Morrissey defeated then-Conservative Cabinet Minister Gail Shea in 2015. This riding has flipped back and forth between the Liberals and Conservatives in the past. However, the Conservatives, Greens and NDP are all running political rookies this election, so name recognition will be a challenge.


St. John’s East (NL)


Former NDP MP and MLA Jack Harris is running again after losing his seat by 600 votes in the 2015 Liberal sweep. He is contending for the seat against incumbent and first-time MP Nick Whalen.



Party Support at the Provincial Level

Party support in recent provincial elections can indicate trends in voter attitudes federally.

Nova Scotia


Second term Liberal majority government, elected May 30, 2017


New Brunswick


First term Progressive Conservative minority government, elected September 24, 2018


Prince Edward Island


First term Progressive Conservative minority government, elected April 23, 2019. Greens became the Official Opposition


Newfoundland and Labrador


Second term Liberal minority government, elected May 16, 2019


Polling for Atlantic Canada

Courtesy of





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