Calgary

Calgary-Lougheed byelection candidates face off at forum

Candidates vying for the open seat in Calgary-Lougheed faced off Sunday for the first and only debate of the byelection.

Voters in the riding go to the polls Dec. 14

It was a packed house at the Braeside Community Centre on Sunday for a debate between candidates in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Candidates vying for the open seat in Calgary-Lougheed faced off Sunday for the first and only debate of the byelection.

The seat became vacant when MLA Dave Rodney stepped down to allow new United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney to run for a seat in the legislature.

Around 250 packed into the Braeside Community Centre for the debate organized by the Calgary Leadership Forum, which was loud and boisterous at times, with some in the crowd acting as hecklers.

Seven people are running for the seat:

Considered the front-runner by political watchers, Kenney took aim Sunday at the governing NDP's economic record.  

There was plenty of heated discussion at the only debate for the Calgary-Lougheed byelection. (CBC)

"A man just came up to me, a petroleum engineer who's been out of a job for three years, so for them to hear the NDP guy say that everything is great, the economy is growing, be happy, doesn't mesh with their reality," he said.

Van Der Merwe said Kenney's approach could actually shift support his way.

"I think that Mr. Kenney's closing remarks was him essentially… on the defensive," he said.

"That's a very good sign for our campaign."

Khan said more focus needs to be placed on job creation in the province.

The economy topped the list of topics at the candidates debate for the Calgary-Lougheed byelection. (CBC)

"We have to be really worried where young people are going to get their jobs," he said. "There may be a GDP recovery underway but it's largely a jobless recovery. We're not creating the jobs. especially for young people. Oil and gas companies are not hiring back all the positions they cut."

Thorsteinson did not attend and Heather, known for being a gadfly at Calgary city hall, was not invited to take part, instead campaigned outside.

Voters in the riding go to the polls on Thursday.

With files from Terri Trembath