Liberal Jenica Atwin defeats Conservative Andrea Johnson after mail-in votes counted

·3 min read
Jenica Atwin greets supporters in Fredericton after being declared the riding's winner in the 2021 federal election. (Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit)
Jenica Atwin greets supporters in Fredericton after being declared the riding's winner in the 2021 federal election. (Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit)

Liberal candidate Jenica Atwin has defeated Conservative Andrea Johnson in the tight Fredericton election race.

Atwin's lead ticked up to 502 votes over Johnson as Elections Canada counted mail-in ballots Wednesday morning. CBC's decision desk projected Atwin the winner.

"It was a close call," Atwin told supporters at a mid-afternoon celebration. "We've been holding our breath for the last couple of days."

The former Green MP-turned-Liberal said she would use her new mandate to continue addressing issues such as health care, housing, climate change and Indigenous rights.

"I'm turning a page. It's a new chapter for me, but it's also time for Canada to turn the page."

Green candidate Nicole O'Byrne moved into third place in the final count Wednesday.. On Monday night, O'Byrne was in fourth behind NDP candidate Shawn Oldenburg.

The final result gave Atwin 37 per cent of the vote compared with 35.9 per cent for Johnson. O'Byrne had 12.9 per cent and Oldenburg had 12.6 per cent.

Elections Canada
Elections Canada

Fredericton was one of 14 ridings across the country where the CBC decision desk had not projected a winner because the number of mail-in ballots was high relative to the margins between the first and second-place candidates.

Mail-in ballots cast by voters who were in their home ridings could only be validated and counted beginning on Tuesday.

Atwin won the riding for the Greens in 2019 but defected to the Liberals in June and became their candidate for the election.

"I have found a home in the Liberal Party of Canada, and it's with incredible colleagues from coast to coast to coast that we are up to the greatest challenge of our lifetime," Atwin said.

"The urgency for change is what fuelled this campaign and it's time to put words into action."

She became the sixth Liberal candidate to win in New Brunswick. The Conservatives won the other four ridings.

Atwin vowed however to represent all people in the riding of Fredericton whether they voted with her or not and also pledged to try work across party lines in the House of Commons.

She defended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's early election call, which produced a result almost identical to the last one in the number of seats held by the five parties in the House of Commons.

"It was about what kind of kind of country we want to live in, which direction do we want to head in post-COVID-19," she said.

"It's a referendum on the spending, on the decisions that were made and on the plan to move past it."

Johnson, who placed second to Atwin in the 2019 election as well, said Wednesday afternoon that the result was not a surprise.

Jacques Poitras/CBC
Jacques Poitras/CBC

"We knew it was going to be tight all the way through," she said as she took down campaign signs.

"We knew it was going to be a tough fight, and it was even closer than last time."

Johnson said federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's more centrist policies were an easier sell than former leader Andrew Scheer in what she called the "very progressive" Fredericton riding.

"It was very easy for me to campaign under Erin O'Toole's leadership."

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