Conservatives' Calgary fortress resists change

The Progressive Conservatives' fortress in Calgary stood strong as the party took 18 of the city's 23 ridings Monday night.

The Progressive Conservatives' fortress in Calgary stood strong as the party took 18 of the city's 23 ridings Monday night, including stealing Ralph Klein's old seat back from the Liberals.

Resentment from Calgary voters over a perceived lack of government attention and oil and gas royalty increases failed to materialize into real losses for the ruling Conservatives during this provincial election.

"This silences any of the criticism from Calgary or the oilpatch," said political analyst Bruce Cameron. "The people have spoken."

The Conservatives' Calgary fortress saw some cracks in the 2004 election, when the Liberals scratched out three seats, followed by a surprise 2006 byelection victory in Calgary-Elbow, the riding Klein held for 15 years.

At the time, Liberals called their victory — and the fact Tory supporters stayed away from the ballot box — a reflection of discontent with the PC government.

But on Monday night incumbent Liberal Craig Cheffins lost to Tory Alison Redford by about 400 votes in Klein's former riding.

In one of the few bright spots for the Liberals, Kent Hehr was elected in Calgary-Buffalo, which had been held by Conservative Harvey Cenaiko, who decided not to run again. The Grits also took Calgary-McCall.

Calgary can't forget that the [federal] Liberals screwed us quite a few years ago and they just can't do anything but vote for the PCs.

As premier, Ed Stelmach won few new fans in the southern city when he stacked his first cabinet with rural MLAs, largely from northern Alberta, and included only three MLAs from Calgary.

Last spring, Stelmach was caught in a public spat with Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier over unconditional infrastructure funding that the premier promised the city.

Stelmach's profile in Calgary continued to go downhill when he increased royalties charged to energy companies — many of them headquartered in Calgary — for the right to develop the province's resources, including the lucrative oilsands.

But throwing their support behind the Alberta Liberals did not appear to be a viable alternative for a majority Calgary voters.

"Calgary can't forget that the [federal] Liberals screwed us quite a few years ago and they just can't do anything but vote for the PCs," said voter Donna Ulrich .

Three Liberals held on to their Calgary seats:

  • Former radio broadcaster Dave Taylor was re-elected over former TV war correspondent Arthur Kent in Calgary-Currie.
  • Harry Chase, the Liberals' housing critic, was re-elected in Calgary-Varsity.
  • Dr. David Swann was re-elected in Calgary-Mountain View.

Alberta Greens Leader George Read finished a distant fourth in Calgary-North West, behind Tory Lindsay Blackett, Liberal Dale D'Silva and Wildrose Alliance's Chris Jukes.