TORONTO — Voters in the critical Greater Toronto Area appeared to be ripping up their four-year-long contract with Stephen Harper's Conservatives Monday night, returning Liberals to the region in huge numbers and propelling the party to power.
Former finance minister Joe Oliver went down to defeat in his Toronto riding, as did two other Conservative heavyweights in the region: Julian Fantino and Chris Alexander.
Meanwhile, in the downtown core, an apparent collapse of NDP support also helped to push the Liberals over the top. Liberal incumbent Adam Vaughan beat the NDP's Olivia Chow in Spadina-Fort York in one of the most hotly contested fights in the province.
"There was a red wave that went from Atlantic Canada to Ontario and I got caught up with it, on it, by it," Chow told reporters. Chow held the riding before she left in 2014 in an unsuccessful bid for the mayoralty.
"They liked me personally as a public servant...but their desire to defeat Stephen Harper was so overwhelming that they said ok, we'll go with the Liberals."
As early Ontario results began to come in, the Liberals were leading across the region, both in Toronto proper and in the suburbs.
Despite having campaigned with native sons Doug and Rob Ford in the west-end Toronto area of Etobicoke twice in the past week, the Conservatives lost Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Etobicoke Centre.
Incumbent Conservatives Lisa Raitt in Milton and Erin O'Toole in Durham, two former ministers, were among the handful that held on to their seats.
To understand what is happening in the GTA, keen observers look back at the dynamics of the 2011 election, when the Conservatives swept the region in spectacular fashion.
In Mississauga and Brampton, for example, the party took every seat, whereas in 2008 they only had one. The party also pierced several elusive outer-Toronto ridings, such as Eglinton-Lawrence, where Oliver was elected.
Conservative party insiders point out that winning many of those ridings was because of the unique circumstances of the time _ the NDP was much stronger then under late leader Jack Layton, creating vote splits.
At the same time, then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff failed to capture the support of traditional party supporters. Some of them voted Conservative to prevent NDP wins in Ontario. Ignatieff lost his own riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore _ Conservative Bernard Trottier wound up holding it for only four years.
Also on HuffPost