2011 Federal Election: The collapse of the Liberal party

The ballots have been counted, and while the Conservatives finally have their majority, it appears that their gains were at the expense of the Liberal party. Part of the Tory-takeover includes a surprising number of longtime NDP and Liberal ridings that were scooped up around the country, including Winnipeg.

One of the most stunning was the defeat of Anita Neville in Winnipeg South Centre, a riding that has been Liberal territory since 1988. But last night, Neville lost her seat to Conservative opponent Joyce Bateman, a former member of the Liberal party.

“I’m sorry and I’m sad; perhaps we did not get our story out to Canadians well enough,” Neville said.

She attributed the loss of her riding to a tidal wave of support for the NDP across the country.

“What happened tonight is we saw significant movement to the New Democrat Party, which is what we thought might happen,” Neville said.

In Winnipeg North, Liberal candidate Kevin Lamoureux also struggled to hang onto his seat, which is now the only Liberal riding left in the province.

“It was a squeaker, I can honestly say, while in the other room as I watched the results come in! We were nervous,” Lamoureux said.

Election night was a rollercoaster ride for his supporters, as well, as they waited anxiously for the results to unfold. The race between Lamoureux and his NDP opponent Rebecca Blaikie was extremely close, with just 117 votes between the two at the very end.

But in St. Boniface, Tory candidate Shelly Glover easily beat out her Liberal opponent Ray Simard.

While Simard says he has no regrets about the campaign he ran in the St. Boniface riding, he was “shocked” by huge gap in votes between himself and the Conservative incumbent, Shelly Glover. Glover ended up with 21,737 votes, while Simard earned just 13,314.

He isn’t sure exactly why the Liberal party lost so much voter support in this federal election, but Simard suspects smear campaigns may have taken a toll.

“I respect Mr. Ignatieff. I just find that it would have been nice to have him run on his platform against Mr. Harper and not have people attack his personality,” Simard said.

Ignatieff’s attack ads don’t seem to have been effective, as the Harper government finally captured the majority vote. But the Conservatives attacks against Ignatieff seemed to work.

“It played a huge role,” Simard said. “People were quoting verbatim what the ads were saying when I knocked on their doors. I think this has to stop, I think that’s disgusting, actually.”

Ignatieff announced Tuesday morning that he will be stepping down as the Liberal leader. Now, the question on everyone’s mind is who will be taking over the reins?