Keeping the status quo was a hard-won battle for Conservatives in the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris, where Tory candidate Larry Maguire won the federal byelection by just 391 votes Monday night.

Another Conservative Manitoba riding, Provencher, was reclaimed more easily by Ted Falk, while the Liberals held onto their strongholds in Toronto and Montreal.

Star Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland edged out NDP’s Linda McQuaig to claim the closely watched Toronto Centre riding, which has been Liberal for 20 years.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Dubourg reclaimed Montreal’s Bourassa riding for the Grits, where longtime MP Denis Coderre stepped down to make a successful run for the mayor’s office.  

In Brandon-Souris, only a few percentage points separated Larry Maguire and Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale throughout the night as poll results trickled in. 

In the end, Maguire was declared the winner.

It was a successful night for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who faced the first electoral test of his leadership.

For the New Democrats, it was a disappointing result after the so-called Orange Wave that saw the NDP rise to Official Opposition status in 2011 under the late Jack Layton

"It is the Liberal Party that proved tonight that hope is stronger than fear, that positive politics can and should win out over negative," Trudeau told supporters in Montreal after Dubourg was declared the winner.

He said the NDP "is no longer the hopeful, optimistic party of Jack Layton, it is the negative, divisive party of Thomas Mulcair.”

Mulcair had conceded earlier Monday that winning any of the four ridings was “an uphill battle” for his party.

Toronto Centre was former interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae’s old seat. Freeland left a lucrative journalism career in New York to return home to run, while the NDP fielded its own writer in McQuaig.

In Bourassa, Dubourg, a local MNA, was up against a formidable NDP candidate in lawyer and former Bran Van 3000 singer Stephane Moraille.

The rural Manitoba riding of Provencher was not expected to change hands. Former public safety minister Vic Toews won the riding with 70 per cent of the vote in 2011.

The other Manitoba riding, however, appeared to be on the brink of turning Liberal red for only the second time in the last 60 years. The Brandon-Souris results went back and forth all night and in late results, 391 votes separated the Conservatives and Liberals.

Many Conservatives in the riding were disillusioned by a nomination process that saw two popular hopefuls be disqualified over paperwork issues, which led to Maguire being acclaimed. There was also growing concern among Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s base in the West over the ongoing Senate expenses scandal.

In the days leading up to election day, Trudeau and Harper traded barbs in letters to voters, while Mulcair has also made appearances in the riding.