Fortress Alberta holds for Conservatives

Justin TrudeauFederal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau won a majority government after the longest federal election campaign since 1872. At time of publication, the Liberals were leading in 184 of 338 seats.

Reaching out to provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan where the Conservatives maintained their stronghold, Trudeau shared a message of conciliation.

“Conservatives are not our enemies, they’re our neighbours,” said Trudeau to a raucous crowd of Liberal supporters at his victory rally in Montreal.

In contrast, the mood at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary was sombre as the outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper spoke to party faithful.

Holland Harper Waves EDITEDStephen Harper greets the crowd at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Alta. on Oct. 19. While the Conservative party lost the federal election to the Liberals, Harper retained his seat in the riding of Calgary Heritage. Photo by Natalie Holland.

“We put everything on the table, we gave everything we had to give and we have no regrets,” he told the quiet crowd.

The president of the Conservative Party of Canada, John Walsh, was later quoted by several media outlets, saying Harper was stepping down as leader of the party.

Conservative supporter Russell Hillier accepted the federal loss, calling it almost inevitable.While Harper’s party lost the election, he retained his seat as did the majority of Calgary Conservatives. Harper personally thanked voters in his riding of Calgary Heritage for ushering him into his sixth term as their MP.

“There’s that feeling that after 10 years the grass is always greener, so that’s democracy, we’ll have to live with it,” said Hillier.

The Conservatives under Stephen Harper went into this election looking for their fourth mandate. The Liberals took an early lead, sweeping the Atlantic provinces, with several Conservative and New Democratic stalwarts, including Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt and deputy leader of the NDP Megan Leslie going down to defeat.

Liberals achieve first Calgary seats in decades

At the time of publication, Liberal Kent Hehr in Calgary Centre was wrapping up his victory speech, having narrowly defeated Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt by 1.5 per cent. Surrounded by reporters, Hehr said, “We had a very successful campaign. Justin Trudeau was amazing. Our platform policy resonated with the citizens of Calgary Centre. And in my view, this country will be better served with a Liberal government.”

Kent HehrLiberal Kent Hehr addresses supporters following his narrow defeat of Joan Crockatt on Oct. 19. He says politics is a team sport. Photo by Omar Omar.

The other Liberal victory in Calgary went to Darshan Kang in Calgary Skyview. Sardined by supporters and media, Kang said “For the first time, we stand here as Calgarians and we stand here as Liberals.”

Other Liberal hopefuls, including Matt Grant and Cam Stewart failed to win in long-held Conservative ridings. Calgarians are sending their first Liberal representatives to Ottawa since 1968, when the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau managed to get one seat in the city.

Calgary remains largely Tory blue

While the Liberals enjoyed resounding success elsewhere in the country, the Conservative heartland remained loyal. In Calgary, eight Conservative MPs were elected at the time of publication, including incumbent Michelle Rempel in Calgary Nose Hill.

“Across Canada, people will be looking for voices to stand up for them. I will be one of them,” Rempel told supporters at the Brixton Pub in MacEwan.

Devinder ShoryAn emotional supporter hugs Devinder Shory (right), one of two incumbent Conservatives who lost their Calgary seats to Liberals. Photo by Aysha Zafar.

Forest Lawn’s re-elected incumbent Deepak Obhrai said that while he was disappointed with the national result, he also welcomed the chance to see what the Liberals would achieve.

“We will be waiting for them in four years,” he said.

Devinder Shory, one of only two Conservatives to lose in Calgary, said “We didn’t do anything wrong and we stood up for our principles.”

Election notes around Alberta

Elected for the third time in Edmonton Strathcona, NDP Linda Duncan remains the sole federal representative of her party in the province. Randy Boissonnault and Amarjeet Sohi were the first Liberals to be elected in Edmonton since 2006. Despite Rachel Notley’s surprise NDP provincial win, the federal party made no gains in rural Alberta. Neither did the Liberals, Greens, nor independent candidates.

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Reporting team: Bryce A.J Visser, Max Foley, Lexi Wright, Anna Junker, Savaya Shinkaruk, Shivangi Pandey, Josie Lukey, Hanna Deeves, Kelsey Solway, Omar Omar, Lauretta John, Natalie Holland, Madison Farkas, Cameron Perrier

Thumbnail photo by Zarif Alibhai

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