Liberal majority win greeted with optimism by Nenshi, Notley

Even though a Calgarian no longer occupies Canada's top political job, the city will still have representation in Ottawa under the new Liberal government.

Reaction among voters in Calgary ranges from delight to despair

Wednesday: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau greets Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi at city hall in Calgary, Alta., during the election campaign. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Though a Calgarian no longer occupies Canada's top political job, the city will still have representation in Ottawa under the new Liberal government.

Liberals Darshan Kang and Kent Hehr are heading to the capital as Liberal MPs — unheard of in nearly five decades.

And as red seeped onto Calgary's traditionally all-blue electoral map, reaction was quick to come pouring in.

"We've prospered under Liberal governments before, you know, great booms under the Chrétien government as well," said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "We're entrepreneurial people, we know what we're doing."

With Calgary stops at the beginning and end of his campaign,Trudeau signaled he understood there was ground to gain in the southern Alberta city. 

Nenshi is hopeful Trudeau makes good on his campaign promise the Liberals made to fund the LRT Green Line and flood-mitigation projects.

"The Liberal Party had a strong platform as relates to cities and we look forward to working with them on building transit, creating a better national housing strategy, and building infrastructure," said Nenshi.

Alberta leaders react

Fresh off her own stunning conservative dethroning, NDP premier Rachel Notley congratulated Alberta voters.

"No matter what your political stripes, you have demonstrated to Albertans the importance of democracy," said Notley in a written statement.

Notley echoed Nenshi's optimism about what a Liberal government could mean for Alberta.

"I look forward to working collaboratively with him to build a strong Alberta within a strong Canada," said Notley.

Brian Jean, leader of Alberta's Official Opposition, congratulated the incoming prime minister on a well-run campaign on behalf of the Wildrose Party.

"Wildrose will be a strong and forceful voice on behalf of Alberta jobs and Alberta's industries, including the energy sector," he said in a release.

"I commend Stephen Harper on his leadership and vision for the country over the past decade — he is leaving Canada a stronger and more economically stable country than when he started. It was an honour to serve under his strong leadership," added Jean, who was a federal MP before taking the helm of Alberta's Wildrose Party.

NEP memories

In the days before the election, Trudeau acknowledged he was mindful of the feelings his family name evokes in some Albertans, since his father created the widely-hated National Energy Program (NEP) in the 1980s.

He said he will not use western resources to try to buy eastern votes, but that commitment wasn't enough to ease the anxiety of interim Progressive Conservative leader Ric McIver.

"If they won, they won. I just hope he wasn't listening when he was sitting on his dads's knee to start with," said McIver.

Earlier in the day McIver was criticized after sending an "urgent" letter to the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) asking them to "get out and support the Conservative Party."

Some current and former colleagues said he didn't have consent from caucus or party membership.

McIver also said outgoing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is owed a huge debt of gratitude from all Canadians. 

"He has done a terrific job, supported the whole country and the city," said McIver.

Mixed feelings 

Harper will continue to sit as an MP and the party is moving to select an interim leader and start the process of electing a new leader "immediately," according to a statement issued by the Conservatives on Tuesday.

Calgary voter Dennis Burns says he was not sorry to see the Conservatives swept out of power. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

In Harper's riding of Calgary Heritage — where the outgoing prime minister was delivered a personal landslide — reaction from voters ranged from cautious optimism to dread.

"I didn't vote for them," said Mike Letourneau. "But let's see what he can do."

Calgary voter Megan Belenky was less sanguine. 

"Liberals don't tend to help us Albertans out that much," she said. 

NDP supporter Dennis Burns said it was time for Harper to go.

"I've never been so annoyed in my life by the prime minister and I've been on this planet a few decades," he said.

"He was just changing this country for the worst and now it's going be changed back."


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