As Alberta gears up for a nail-biter of a provincial election, the NDP is looking to maintain its hold on the province’s most diverse riding.

Located in the northeast sector of the city, Calgary-Bhullar-McCall includes the neighbourhoods of Martindale, Saddle Ridge, and Taradale, as well as the Calgary International Airport. 

The Calgary-McCall riding was created in 1971 and named after First World War air ace Frederick McCall. The electoral district was renamed to Calgary-Bhullar-McCall in December 2021 in honour of the late MLA Manmeet Singh Bhullar, who was tragically killed in a highway crash in 2015.

This story is part of an editorial partnership between the Calgary Journal and MacEwan University journalism.

The riding is notable for its high levels of ethnic diversity. 

“There’s so many different people of different backgrounds,” says Balraj Sidhu, who grew up in northeast Calgary and now operates his barbershop, Sidhu The Barber, that’s also in the riding. “It’s a beautiful melting pot of a community.”

Mohammad Zahed, executive assistant at the Genesis Centre, echoes these sentiments. In addition to community and recreational facilities, the Centre provides free services to many newcomers and refugees. 

Like many other Albertans, residents of Calgary-Bhullar-McCall have felt the pressures of the rising cost of living, which is shaping up to be one of the major talking points in the election.

“There’s definitely more of a need and a want of more free or discounted services,” says Zahed. “We have felt the impact of inflation like everyone else, and this community is no different.”

NDP candidate Irfan Sabir.

NDP MLA Irfan Sabir has held the riding since 2015. He was re-elected in 2019, commanding 51.7 per cent of the vote.

Sabir has again been nominated for the NDP candidacy. He currently sits as Alberta’s Justice Critic and Interim Democracy and Ethics Critic. 

In his previous role as Minister of Community and Social Services from 2015 to 2019, Sabir introduced the Alberta Child Benefit and ensured that AISH benefits increased with inflation. He has also worked as a lawyer, specializing in First Nation and Aboriginal legal arbitration and legislation. 

Sabir was unavailable for comment.

UCP candidate Amanpreet Singh Gill.

The UCP nominee is Amanpreet Singh Gill. He owns an excavation company and is the former president of the Dashmesh Culture Centre in the Martindale neighbourhood. 

He was awarded the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in January 2023 for his role in developing charitable community projects, including the DCC Food Bank and Mata Sahib Kaur Ji Women and Children’s Transitional Housing Project. 

Gill did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

At the time of publication, no other parties have announced nominees for the Calgary-Bhullar-McCall riding.

In 2008 and 2012, Calgary-Bhullar-McCall swung Liberal under former MLA Darshan Kang. Prior to 2004, the riding elected Progressive Conservative MLAs for nearly three decades. 

According to 338Canada, the NDP is projected to take the riding once again on May 29 with a vote share of 62 per cent. The UCP is projected to take 33 per cent of votes. 

Though the Calgary-Bhullar-McCall riding is a likely NDP win, the outcomes in the rest of the city aren’t as certain. Calgary’s block of 26 seats will be the primary battleground between the NDP and UCP, according to Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt. Though Calgary has consistently leaned to the right, in this election, he says, it’s a “toss up.” 

Bratt adds, “The NDP have to win 18 to 20 seats out of 26, I think, to form government. So they’re going to have to do better than they’ve ever done in their history.”

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Claire Wolsey is a student at MacEwan University in Edmonton.