Liberals win first Calgary seats since 1968 as Conservatives take 8

Darshan Kang wins Calgary Skyview and Kent Hehr takes Calgary Centre, becoming the first Liberals to win seats in the city since 1968, while the Conservatives capture the city's other eight ridings.

Liberal Party breaks through in Calgary Centre and Calgary Skyview

For the first time in nearly half a century, Calgary has elected a Liberal MP — two, in fact — while the Conservatives took the other eight seats in the city.

Darshan Kang won Calgary Skyview by a comfortable margin, becoming the first Liberal to earn a seat in the city since 1968, when Pat Mahoney took the now-defunct riding of Calgary South.

And, after a back-and-forth battle that lasted most of the night, Calgary Centre Liberal candidate Kent Hehr eked out a narrow victory, winning only 906 more votes than his closest rival, Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt. 

"It was a bit of a nail biter," Hehr said in his acceptance speech, when his victory finally seemed secure shortly before midnight.

Kang, meanwhile, described the Liberals' victories as a "new dawn" in Alberta.

"We won this campaign the old-fashioned way," he said. "We earned it through hard work and that's really what Canada is all about — hope and hard work, and this country has given a chance to each and every person to reach their goals."

Kang's win came shortly after CBC News projected Justin Trudeau would be Canada's next prime minister after leading the Liberal Party to a stunning majority government win — dashing the hopes of Stephen Harper, who had been seeking his fourth consecutive mandate.

Conservatives take 8 Calgary ridings

However, the Conservatives dominated in the city overall, winning election or re-election in eight of 10 ridings:

  • Stephen Harper in Calgary Heritage.
  • Len Webber in Calgary Confederation.
  • Michelle Rempel in Calgary Nose Hill.
  • Jason Kenney in Calgary Midnapore.
  • ​Pat Kelly in Calgary Rocky Ridge.
  • Ron Liepert in Calgary Signal Hill.
  • Deepak Obhrai in Calgary Forest Lawn.
  • Tom Kmiec in Calgary Shepard.

Harper to step down as Conservative leader

Speaking at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Harper thanked the voters of Calgary Heritage for re-electing him while saying he accepts the overall defeat of his government "without hesitation."

Stephen Harper waves to the crowd as he leaves after giving a concession speech at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary Monday night. Harper won his seat but his government was soundly defeated by the Liberals. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

"It remains a true privilege to serve the people of this vibrant city in the Parliament of Canada," Harper said.

Harper did not mention his political future in his speech. However, the president of the party put out a release saying Harper would step down as Conservative leader following the party's defeat.

Rempel, who served as minister of state for western economic diversification under Harper, was re-elected with 60 per cent of the vote in Calgary Nose Hill, compared to 26.9 per cent for her closest rival, Liberal Robert Prcic.

"There are policies and ideals in our platform that resonate with Canadians," Rempel said, as news of the overall Liberal victory emerged. "I think you always have to go back to those, your roots, your principles, make sure that they're enshrined in your policies … and that would be something I would like to see going forward."

Alberta still staunchly Conservative, expert says

Despite the Liberals' breakthrough, Alberta remains staunchly Conservative territory, noted University of Calgary political scientist Anthony Sayer.

He said most Albertans continue to see the Conservatives in general, and Stephen Harper in particular, as their best choice of representation.

"[Harper] was ours and he was bringing an Alberta view to Ottawa," Sayer said. "I think you stick with that until there's evidence that's no longer going to work."

Nenshi: People voted 'not against something, but for something'

There were roughly 2.7 million registered voters in Alberta, including 835,000 in Calgary and 644,000 in Edmonton.

Calgary voters line up outside the polling station at Connaught School in the final hours of voting on Monday, Oct. 19. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Long lineups were reported at polling stations in Calgary at the end of the work day.

"I think what is very, very clear is that people are voting not against something, but for something," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said after polls closed.

"They're voting for a country and vision of a country that they want and for me that has to do with things like who's going to invest in transit, who's going to work on housing, who's going to help us build the infrastructure we need to make the economy go."

Edmonton sees 2 Liberal, 1 NDP victors

By contrast, the 2011 federal election saw Conservatives elected in every single Alberta riding except one — Edmonton Strathcona, where Linda Duncan of the NDP was re-elected. Duncan captured her seat again on Monday night.

It was expected to be a tight race in Edmonton Centre, where all three major parties were looking to win following the retirement of former Conservative MP Laurie Hawn.

In the end, Liberal Randy Boissonnault managed to pull off a tight win over Conservative James Cumming.

And, in another close race, Tim Uppal, the Conservative incumbent in Edmonton Millwoods and minister of state for multiculturalism, was narrowly defeated by Edmonton city councillor Amarjeet Sohi, who was running for the Liberals.

In Edmonton West, Karen Leibovici — a former MLA, city councillor and mayoral candidate — failed in political comeback bid as a Liberal candidate, losing to Conservative Kelly McCauley.

And in St. Albert-Edmonton, incumbent Brent Rathgeber was defeated by Conservative Michael Cooper. Rathgeber ran as an Independent after quitting the Conservative caucus.

Outside major cities

Outside Calgary and Edmonton, Conservative dominance is seen to be more secure, but the NDP had been making a push in the redrawn riding of Lethbridge, where there was no incumbent.

Ultimately, though, Conservative Rachael Harder won Lethbridge handily.

The northern riding of Fort McMurray-Cold Lake had been considered one to watch. However, incumbent David Yurdiga of the Conservatives also won by a large margin.

He was up against Liberal Kyle Harrietha in a rematch of last year's byelection, which was triggered by the resignation of former MP Brian Jean, who now leads the provincial Wildrose party.

Read our blog to get a recap of the election night excitement and disappointments