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Fabian Mayer

Liberals win majority, Conservatives hang on in Calgary Confederation

By Fabian Mayer, October 20 2015 —

The Liberals’ near 50-year drought in Calgary is over. The party won both Calgary Skyview and Calgary Centre as part of a dramatic nation-wide resurgence that saw them form a majority government.

In Calgary Confederation, a tight two-way race between the Conservatives and Liberals saw former PC MLA Len Webber elected for the Conservative party by a  roughly two per cent margin.

Webber said he was elated about winning the riding, but was less enthusiastic about the Conservative’s national results.

“All I know is we’re going to make [Trudeau] accountable,” Webber said. 

Webber narrowly beat out 32-year-old Liberal candidate Matt Grant, who held out hope long after CBC projected Webber to win the riding shortly after 10 p.m. on election night, claiming his team was still waiting on a handful of poll results to come in before conceding.

The remaining polls made it clear Webber had won the riding by around 1,300 votes. NDP candidate Kirk Heuser finished a distant third, while Green Party candidate Natalie Odd and Marxist Leninist Party candidate Kevan Hunter finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It is disappointing, but the reality is we have a lot to be proud of,” Grant said.

Grant claims he began campaigning two years ago, and his team knocked on 115,000 doors in the riding.

“I would have done everything exactly the same,” Grant said.  “I’m really proud of the campaign. Our team worked so hard.”

Eight of Calgary’s 10 ridings went to the Conservatives. The tightest race in the city was Calgary Centre, where former Liberal MLA Kent Hehr defeated Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt by just over one per cent of the vote.

Before Oct. 19, the last Liberal to win a seat in Calgary was Pat Mahoney, who won in 1968 when Trudueaumania for Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau swept the country.  

Provincial Liberal leader David Swann worked on Grant’s campaign and was at his election night party. Swann admitted he was surprised by the national results.

“I’ve been an MLA 11 years and now I’m the last Liberal in Alberta, so it appeared that Albertans were turning their backs on Liberals. Justin Trudeau has helped to turn the wave the other way,” Swann said.

Swann hoped this might provide a boost to the struggling provincial Liberals.

“This is tremendous news for Canada and for Alberta to see real opportunity for real and more progressive leadership, more inclusive leadership, more respectful leadership in Alberta as well as the rest of Canada,” Swann said.

The Liberals won 184 seats, the Conservatives 99, the NDP 44, the Bloq Quebecois 10 and the Green party one.

Calgary Confederation had the highest voter turnout in Calgary at over 75 per cent.

University of Calgary Students’ Union president Levi Nilson believes the SU’s Get Out The Vote Campaign was partly responsible.

“The campaign itself was fantastic. We ended up getting through all 8,500–8,600 students that we called,” Nilson said.

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