Liberals, Conservatives, NDP share the honours in the Eastern Townships

Staff Writer

The "red tide" that swept across the country included the Eastern Townships, as the Liberals picked up two seats, both gains from the NDP, in the region. Denis Paradis won back his old seat in Brome-Missisquoi, while Marie-Claude Bibeau upset incumbent Jean Rousseau in Compton-Stanstead. Meanwhile, NDP incumbent Pierre-Luc Dusseault held on to his seat in Sherbrooke, but not without getting a run for his money from the Liberals' Tom Allen. In Richmond-Arthabaska, Victoriaville Mayor Alain Rayes provided a rare highlight for the Conservatives, as he picked up a seat that the Bloc won in 2011.

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Sherbrooke: Orange wave recedes, but not in Sherbrooke

By Gordon Lambie

As of press time Monday night, the vote was leaning toward NDP incumbent Pierre-Luc Dusseault holding onto his seat in Sherbrooke. As of 11:15 Dusseault led the riding by a margin of more than 1,000 votes with 125 of 252 polls reporting.
Though local NDP supporters were pleased to see their candidate in the lead, the mood in the La Combine bar next to Dusseault’s campaign headquarters was subdued as national media predicted a Liberal majority government.
Dusseault’s re-election would represent the ninth consecutive election in which the voters of the riding put their support behind a candidate who did not end up being a part of the ruling party.
The riding was a Bloc Quebecois dynasty for more than a decade before the 2011 “Orange Wave” that saw then 19-year-old Dusseault become the NDP MP for Sherbrooke.
Dusseault made waves across the country at the time as the youngest person ever elected to a seat in the House of Commons, and has since made a name for himself in the community largely as an advocate for the development of Sherbrooke’s Airport.
The campaign in Sherbrooke was largely seen as a positive one by the candidates involved, with both Conservative candidate Marc Dauphin and Liberal candidate Tom Allen remarking at the ability of the candidates to interact decently even while disagreeing on matters of policy. The exception to this was the dynamic between Bloc Quebecois candidate Caroline Bouchard and Dusseault, where Bouchard consistently criticised and questioned the NDP incumbent’s actions and choices both during the campaign and over the course of his time in office.
Bouchard, drawing on the riding’s Bloc Quebecois history, cast herself in the role of the NDP’s main opponent in the city. This dynamic was thrown off, however, by the unforeseen popularity of Allen, who held his own in first or second place for much of the early polling before settling into second.

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Compton Stanstead: Bibeau rides the red wave

By Matthew McCully

At press time, with 90 of 246 polls counted, Marie-Claude Bibeau, running for the Liberals in Compton-Stanstead, was declared the winner over NDP incumbent Jean Rousseau.
Just minutes after polls closed, the clean Liberal sweep across the Maritime Provinces had media reporting Justin Trudeau as Canada’s next Prime Minister.
With a decisive early lead over runner-up Jean Rousseau, Bibeau continued the Liberal Party’s wave of support.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Bibeau said, just moments after being declared the winner.
“I know the other candidates ran a very strong campaign. I’m proud,” Bibeau said.
Bibeau’s camp was stationed at The Lion in Lennoxville.
Borough President David Price, a supporter, played hooky from the Sherbrooke City Council meeting to be with the campaign team as numbers came in.
Price pointed out the numbers were thinner than he would have liked at Bibeau’s party, because a number of volunteers had gone out last minute to keep an eye on the vote counts in the 47 different polls in the area.
“I’ll do my best to represent the region,” Bibeau said.
Compton-Stanstead has a colourful political history. Most recently NDP, the riding was previously held by the Bloc Quebecois for two terms, represented by France Bonsant. David Price preceded the Bloc, representing the Liberals, but also held the riding as a Conservative member as far back as 1997.
Bibeau said she looks forward to getting out in the riding to meet with constituents.
“I’m really excited to get started,” she said.

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Richmond-Arthabaska: Conservatives win the battle but not the war

By Gordon Lambie

Richmond-Arthabaska was flagged by many earlier in this electoral campaign as a riding to watch but the results over the course of last night very quickly led the riding toward the Conservative Party. By 11:30 p.m., with 198 of 265 polls reporting, Conservative candidate Alain Rayes was well in the lead, with more than a 1,700-vote lead over second-place Liberal Marc Desmarais.
In a riding that has not had Liberal representation on the federal level in decades and whose Bloc Quebecois MP jumped ship on his party and chose not to run again, the NDP’s Myriam Beaulieu was generally seen as being Reyes’ most viable opponent in the 2015 race, but the candidate failed to rally the support to take second in the riding, falling under the momentum of the Liberal swell that overtook the country and the star power of her Conservative counterpart.
The Conservative Party of Canada turned heads by snapping up Rayes as their candidate last spring. The (now outgoing) mayor of Victoriaville, Rayes, told the Record that his existing connections in that community, which makes up roughly half the population of the riding, meant that he had a significant advantage over his competitors from the start.
What the decisive victory for the candidate will mean for the riding with his party in official opposition position rather than in government, however, is a bit of a mystery. Rayes’ campaigning revolved around a narrative of maintaining the status quo and providing support to local industry from a position of power that he no longer finds himself in.
Regardless of results, local Returning Officer Jacques Alie said that voter turnout in the region was good and that the process both on the day of and in the advance polls went smoothly and without issue.

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Brome-Missisquoi: Paradis regained as former MP returns to Ottawa
By Matthew McCully

With 78 of 257 polls counted, Denis Paradis was declared the winner of the Brome-Missisquoi riding, reclaiming the seat he held for 11 years before being ousted in 2006 by Bloc candidate Christian Ouellet.
Paradis had picked up 44.8% of the vote, and was nearly 3,000 votes ahead of the NDP’s Catherine Lusson.
“I think it’s wonderful to be part of the Liberal team, especially if we are able to form a majority government,” Paradis said, still early in the evening but feeling confident.
Brome-Missisquoi was one of two ridings on the national watch list, with a tight race between Paradis and Lusson, who was trying to fill the shoes of predecessor Pierre Jacob, who opted not to run for re-election.
In the past 20 years, all four of the major parties have held the seat at various times.
Political newcomers Patrick Melchoir for the Bloc and Conservative candidate Charles Poulin proved no match for the Paradis camp, well-established in the region.
In an interview with The Record during the campaign, Paradis said a big concern in the riding was the health of Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog.
“I’m coming back for two lakes,” Paradis said.
Originally from Bedford, Paradis chose l’Interlude, a bar in the centre of town as his election night hub.
With friends, family and a few mayors from surrounding towns, Paradis was happy to be on his home turf for his victory celebration.
Keeping his focus on the lakes, he said Bedford was also chosen because of its proximity to Lake Champlain.
“I’ll do something near Magog in the next few weeks to celebrate as well,” he said.
Paradis first claimed Brome-Missisquoi with a decisive victory over the Bloc’s Jean- François Bertrand in 1995. He then defended his seat in following elections against the Bloc and Conservative runners-up, until Christian Ouellet entered the race for the Bloc in 2004, closing the gap and defeating Paradis in 2006.
Because Paradis has 11 years of experience, The Record asked if he would be headed straight to work in the morning.
“I think tomorrow morning, I’ll probably be giving more interviews,” he laughed, adding he is ready for the task at hand.

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