Kent Hehr defeats Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre

Incumbent Conservative Joan Crockatt got off to an early lead in one of the most closely watched races in the Conservative heartland — Calgary Centre — but Kent Hehr came back to take the riding.

'I believe we have changed this city and Canada for the better,' says former MLA

Kent Hehr greets the crowd at his victory party after narrowly defeating Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre. (CBC)

It's a spot of red in the heart of a sea of blue, a hard fought victory the Liberals desperately wanted in Calgary Centre.

Kent Hehr, a popular former MLA, defeated the incumbent Conservative MP Joan Crockatt, who took the riding in a close byelection race in 2012. 

While Crockatt was far ahead early on, her share of the vote started to contract rapidly two hours after polls closed and she never recovered.

Echoing his Liberal colleague Darshan Kang, who captured Calgary Skyview, Hehr said they made history on Monday.

"For this great city to have a Liberal go to Ottawa. I believe we have changed this city and Canada for the better," he told a crowd of supporters in downtown Calgary.

"I will go to Ottawa to represent not only those who voted for me but people who cast a ballot for other parties."​

Crockatt to 'enjoy a little time off'

Crockatt said she's going to take a breather and "enjoy a little time off" before getting back to work. 

"I fundamentally do believe that the residents of Calgary Centre are fundamentally conservative and I believe this riding again will have a Conservative member of Parliament," she said while conceding defeat. 

While Joan Crockatt was far ahead early on, the Conservative candidate's share of the vote started to contract rapidly two hours after polls closed in Calgary Centre and she never recovered. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Home owners vs. renters

Calgary Centre is a diverse riding, encompassing wealthy suburbs and the dense, inner-city Beltline area. 

It's unusual in that it is dominated by people who rent their homes in a city that, as a whole, has among the highest rates of home ownership in the country.

A 2011 National Household Survey found rentals outnumbered owned dwellings in Calgary Centre by a margin of 55.5 per cent to 44.4 per cent.


The riding boundaries have changed over time, with the original Calgary Centre riding created in the 1960s.

The riding was significantly redrawn and renamed Calgary South Centre in 2003 before being renamed Calgary Centre in 2004.

In the early 2000s, the seat was held by Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, before that party merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada in 2003.

Clark didn't join the new Conservative party and held the seat, effectively as an Independent, until the 2004 election, when he retired from politics.

Conservative Lee Richardson won the seat in 2004 and held it until 2012, when he quit to take a job working for then-premier Alison Redford.

2012 byelection

That triggered a byelection, which saw a tight three-way race between Crockatt, Liberal Harvey Locke, and star Green Party candidate Chris Turner, a well-known local author.

Crockatt won with 37 per cent of the vote, ahead of Locke's 33 per cent and Turner's 26 per cent.

Calgary Centre's boundaries changed again in the 2013 riding redistribution, losing some ground in the west and gaining some in in the east.

Calgary Centre is a multicultural and largely urban riding that includes the city's downtown core and Beltline area, in addition to communities like Ramsay, Mission and Inglewood.

Its boundaries stretch from the Bow River in the north to Glenmore Trail in the south, and from 37 Street S.W. in the west to the Bow River in the east.

Beyond Hehr and Crockatt, the candidates included Jillian Ratti for the NDP, Thana Boonlert for the Greens and independent Yogi Henderson.