Approximately 50 supporters of Richard Bragdon let out a big cheer at the Best Western in Woodstock when CTV declared him the winner on Monday night.
The Tobique-Mactaquac Conservative Party of Canada incumbent took a strong lead in early polling. He was the first Conservative declared a winner in Atlantic Canada.
After midnight, with 175 of 178 polls counted, Bragdon more than doubled the vote count of his nearest competitor, Liberal Cully Robertson.
Bragdon tallied more than 16,000 votes, while Robinson was more than 8,000 votes behind, with less than 7,400 votes. NDP candidate Meriet Gray Miller earned just under 3,400 votes with three polls to count.
The PPC candidate Daniel Waggoner managed to collect almost 2,800 votes
About 20 minutes after being the projected winner, Bragdon made his way through the ballroom to cheers, hugs and slaps on the back. Among those waiting to greet him was New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Margaret Johnson.
The re-elected Tory paid homage to her by noting one of his priorities when he returns to Ottawa would be to support Tobique-Mactaquac industry in which agriculture plays a central role.
Bragdon thanked his family and his election team throughout the riding.
While the incumbent felt good heading into the campaign, he said the team worked hard but had a great time. He said they travelled roads they had not travelled before and met new people.
He said his campaign got a great reception at the doors of Tobique-Mactaquac voters.
While he waits to see what the next few days bring and the makeup of the new Parliament, Bragdon said Canadians expect those they elected to get down to work immediately.
Despite taking positive messages from popular-vote gains in Atlantic Canada, Bragdon will return to Ottawa with a Parliament similar to the one that existed before the election call.
Before knowing the final national results, the returning MP said Canadians appeared to be choosing another minority government, delivering a message they expect cooperation.
He said the pandemic remains top of mind for Canadians, and they expect the government to steer the nation through the tough times “as efficiently and safely as possible.”
“We’re in a challenging time, but we’re hopeful we’ll get to the other side of this, too,” Bragdon said.
He said Canadians want to see the parties working together.
He said introducing and passing a private-members bill with bipartisan support proved parties can work together.
“I’m truly thankful,” Bragdon said. “All parties were so kind in the midst of that, and gave good input, gave good advice. I think that was a big learning curve for me, and I look back at that and say, ‘you know, things can get done.’”
He said calling an election in the heart of the pandemic left Canadians and opposition parties scratching their heads.
“The timing wasn’t good. Then it got divisive,” Bragdon said.
He said MPs of all parties heading to Ottawa must work together and “turn down the heat.”
“It’s not us against them,” he said. “We’ve got to get together.”
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun