NEWS
10/19/2015 20:25 EDT | Updated 10/19/2016 01:12 EDT

Liberals dominate New Brunswick's political map after early polls

EDMUNDSTON, N.B. — Like much of the province's fall foliage, much of New Brunswick's political map was turning red Monday night.

Prior to the election, the Conservatives held eight of the province's 10 seats while the Liberals and New Democrats each had one.

But nearly an hour after the polls closed, there were strong indications of change.

With many polls yet to report, the Liberals were leading or elected in nine of the ridings, including the cities of Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.

Among the Conservative MPs under close scrutiny was Keith Ashfield, seeking a third term in the bellwether riding of Fredericton. The former federal fisheries minister excused himself from cabinet in June 2013 to battle the first of two bouts with cancer, but earlier this year he announced the cancer was in remission. Early figures showed him trailing Liberal Matt DeCourcey by 800 votes.

In Madawaska-Restigouche, Conservative Bernard Valcourt faced a strong challenge from his Liberal and New Democrat opponents, and saw fierce public opposition to his support of the Harper government's changes to Employment Insurance. Nearly an hour after the polls closed, he was in third place behind both Rene Arseneault of the Liberals and the NDP's Rosalie L'Italien.

New Democrat Yvon Godin chose not to seek re-election in the riding of Acadie-Bathurst after holding the seat since 1997. The riding had traditionally been a Liberal stronghold before that, and appeared on track to remain so with Serge Cormier holding off a challenge from the determined mayor of Maisonette and NDP candidate Jason Godin.

Conservative incumbent Robert Goguen won Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe in 2011, the first time a Conservative had captured the riding in 23 years, but an hour after the polls closed, the Liberals' Ginette Petitpas Taylor had opened a lead of more than 1,600 votes.

Voter turnout was reported as steady across the province Monday.

According to Elections Canada, just over 113,000 of the 570,000 eligible voters in New Brunswick cast their ballots during the advance polls, an increase from about 71,000 who voted early in 2011.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press