Veteran Tory candidate Duncan leading NDP rookie Leonard in tight Vancouver Island North

As the night wears on, Conservative incumbent John Duncan is still in another tight, back-and forth battle with an NDP opponent in Vancouver Island North.

John Duncan (right) talks to a supporter in his election headquarters at a Courtenay restaurant as the Conservative incumbent waged another tight election battle in Vancouver Island North.

As the night wears on, Conservative incumbent John Duncan is still in another tight, back-and forth battle with an NDP opponent in Vancouver Island North.

With 220 of 298 polls having reported in the sprawling riding, Duncan held 18,496 votes, opening up a 645-vote lead over NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard, a City of Courtenay councillor.

It brought back memories of the close battles Duncan waged with former NDP opponent Catherine Bell, from whom he took two of the past three election tilts.

Duncan has won the riding’s seat five of the past six elections.

In what quickly became a two-person race, Duncan held 45.3 per cent of the riding’s popular vote, with Leonard at 43.7.

Third-place Sue Moen of the Green Party continued to hold a narrow lead over Liberal Mike Holland, reflecting the Liberals’ collapse nationally. After 220 polls reported, Moen had 2,145 ballots, compared to 2,081 for Holland.

Independent Jason Draper and Frank Martin of the Marxist-Leninist Party trailed them with 214 and 38 votes respectively.

Even without Vancouver Island North, the Conservatives won the majority government leader Stephen Harper asked for, leading or elected in 166 of 308 ridings with 39.7 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP held onto the momentum they gained in the final two weeks of the campaign and were leading in 104 seats with 30.8 per cent of the popular vote.

The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois suffered embarrassing setbacks, while Green Party national leader Elizabeth May became the first Green leader elected in North America.

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