Calgary goes entirely blue as former Liberal minister Kent Hehr loses seat – CBC.ca

Calgary goes entirely blue as former Liberal minister Kent Hehr loses seat - CBC.ca
Replay: Liberals win the election, as Calgary is painted Conservative blue
The Conservatives have captured back both Calgary seats they had lost to the Liberals in 2015, including ousting former Liberal minister Kent Hehr, and turned the city entirely blue, CBC News projects.

Hehr's team confirmed to CBC News around 9 p.m. that Hehr had conceded and called Conservative Greg McLean to congratulate him on his victory.

“I think that’s what a lot of people are forgetting, they’re like, if the Liberals win a minority and the NDP want to kill the pipeline and the Greens want to kill the pipeline and the Bloc want to kill the pipeline, the pipeline’s dead” — but they’re forgetting the power of the Conservatives and the Liberals together will almost certainly prevent that from happening, said Nenshi.

"Greg is a classy guy, he always treated me with dignity and respect and I know he's going to do an excellent job for Calgary Centre," Hehr said in a concession speech around 9:45 p.m.

Heading into midnight, Elections Canada results showed the Liberals with 156 seats and the Conservatives with 122 seats. The NDP were reduced to 24 while the Bloc Quebecois had grabbed up to 32 seats. And the Green Party, re-elected in their two Vancouver Island ridings, grabbed an additional third seat in the East.

As of 11:30 p.m., McLean had captured 56 per cent of the vote to Hehr's 27 per cent, with 222 of 228 polls reporting.

“My friends, what a team we put together here on this campaign. We knocked on doors, we stuffed envelopes, we went out there with a positive message each and every day,” said Hehr to a crowd of about 200 supporters, many in tears, at the Palace Theatre before speaking about his opponent.

A few minutes later, McLean took to the stage at his campaign headquarters to cheers of "Greg, Greg," which changed to cheers of "Ruth, Ruth" as his wife joined him.

McLean has spent 20 years working in finance, and is the director of a private oil-and-gas technology company. In the late '80s and early '90s, he worked for Conservative cabinet ministers on files like the privatization of portions of Via Rail and CN Rail, and the transfer of airports to local airport authorities. He and his wife have four sons.

"When I started this, I did not foresee this outcome. It's going to be difficult being in opposition when you see so much going wrong in Ottawa," he said, adding that the rest of Canada needs to understand Alberta's needs.

Hehr, who was once minister of veterans affairs and later took on the sports and persons with disabilities portfolio, had stepped down from the Liberal cabinet after allegations of sexual harassment. 

“Unless Alberta is treated as an equal partner I see politics in this province and country becoming increasingly polarized and I feel like the federal government has lost the moral authority to govern,” he said.

On Monday night, Hehr thanked his team, wife Deanna Holt and mother Judy Hehr for their support in what he said can be a tough and mean-spirited line of work.

All other Calgary Conservatives won as well, including Michelle Rempel re-elected in Calgary Nosehill, John Barlow in Calgary Foothills and  Ron Liepert, easily re-elected in Calgary Signal Hill.

"I've had 12 years in this business and I've gotten to share my life with people," he said.

"A couple hours ago this campaign came to an end. But I know the work for a better city, a better province, a better country…. I will keep working at it, I know you all in this room will keep working at it, and, my goodness, my heart is so full."

"We now have a new MP and my ask is that we treat him the way we wish Kent had been treated," she said.

“I was the name on the ballot, and at the end of the day, it’s my voters who didn’t send me back to Ottawa. So it’s a combination of things and ultimately, if you look at the work we did, I thought we had a chance to win it, but it wasn’t in the cards tonight,” ​Hehr said.

The riding was one of two in Calgary that the Liberals pried away from the Tories in the 2015 election, marking the first time the party had picked up seats in the city since 1968.

The other was Calgary Skyview, where Darshan Kang won the seat as a Liberal in 2015. He resigned from the party two years later after sexual harassment allegations and didn't run again.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a movie in three years — little things like that. I’m going to take some time. I’ve got to figure out who I am outside Kent the politician,” he said.

Despite a last-minute visit to Calgary Skyview by Justin Trudeau on Saturday night, Liberal Nirmala Naidoo lost out there to Conservative Jag Sahota, according to CBC News.

The former Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, resigned from the Liberal cabinet a day after the allegations surfaced, but stayed as a member of the party caucus and as the MP for Calgary Centre.

Sahota operates her own law practice in northeast Calgary, and volunteers with a number of organizations including the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association and the Elizabeth Fry Society.

McLean has spent his career working in finance, according to the Conservative party website, and spent six years advising two cabinet ministers on a federal level in three separate portfolios.

"The issue is that the economy across the country is firing on all cylinders except in Alberta, which should be the engine of the country," said Nenshi.

“I’ve gotten to share my life with people, far and wide, hear their hopes, their cares, their concerns, and it has truly been an honour to work alongside them,” Hehr said.

While final vote counts likely won't be out for a few days, these are the candidates that have been elected in Calgary, according to CBC News projections:

Former Liberal MP Kent Hehr has lost his seat in the riding of Calgary Centre, with Conservative candidate Greg McLean beating him out as the federal Liberals won a minority government.

The Liberals were shut out of Alberta as a whole, with Conservative candidates claiming victory in 33 of the 34 ridings. The only exception was Edmonton-Strathcona, which stayed in NDP hands.

“We knocked doors, we stuffed envelopes, we went out there with a positive message each and every day, and I am so proud of every one of you,” he said onstage.

In Calgary, as of 11:30 p.m., Conservatives had 69 per cent of the vote, Liberals had 15 per cent, NDP had 9 per cent, Greens 4 per cent, and the People's Party 2 per cent, with 2,932 of 2,999 polls (98 per cent) reporting.

He said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau worked as hard as he could to put forward an agenda on climate change action and to get Alberta resources to market.

Across Canada, Liberals had 33 per cent of the vote while Conservatives had 35 per cent, with 95 per cent of polls reporting.

While most voters cast their ballots Monday, many Albertans also voted early this year. One in five eligible voters in Alberta (578,219 people) cast their ballots in the advance polls between Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, a 59 per cent increase from 2015's federal election.

It has come to our attention that new citizens were incorrectly informed during their ceremony on Friday that they would need to wait two business days before being able to vote. This is incorrect, read the statement. The Department is calling and emailing all of the affected individuals to inform them they are able to vote.

Rick Bennetts told CBC News after casting his ballot that he feels there was "too much negativity and no real solid platforms from anybody."

Meanwhile, a strong anti-Trudeau message continues in Alberta. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau visited Calgary on Saturday in a final attempt to ramp up support in the west, although his visit did not focus on the riding of Calgary-Centre. 

"There was a lot of mud-slinging and we didn't seem to get to the bottom of the matter. I felt that it was left to myself to get the information I needed to make an appropriate vote," Karen Meades said.

Instead, Trudeau campaigned in Calgary-Skyview where Liberal candidate Nirmala Naidoo is running. About 1,500 supporters attended the 11 p.m. speech, which lasted for about 10 minutes at Magnolia Hall in northeast Calgary. 

One Calgary Conservative who has lost their seat — albeit not in Calgary — is George Canyon. The Calgary resident, and long-time anthem singer for the NHL Flames, ran in his home riding of Central Nova in Nova Scotia. CBC News has projected Canyon will lose to Liberal incumbent Sean Fraser.

Throughout the 40-day campaign, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have been in a tight race. Right up to election day, polls suggested it was likely neither party would capture the 170 seats needed to form a majority government.

Hehr, in an emotional speech, conceded that it was a tough night to be a Liberal politician in Calgary, (and Alberta, which went all Conservative except for Edmonton Strathcona, which was won by the NDPs Heather McPherson).

"Know that you are an essential part of this great country. I've heard your frustration and I want to be there to support you. Let us all work hard to bring our country together," he said.

"The voters of Calgary Centre voted for change in our riding," Hehr said. "A tough election loss, but I know (Conservative MP) Greg (McLean) is going to do a super job as the MP for Calgary Centre."

Scheer said he spoke with Trudeau to congratulate him, but said the results "put Justin Trudeau on notice."

Political scientist Anthony Sayers said he's cautiously optimistic the parties can work together on issues important to Albertans. 

"I don't think a minority Liberal government is the worst possible outcome for Albertans. In fact … it's a period where all sorts of things are open for negotiation," Sayers said. "We have a government that purchased a pipeline. It needs to make that pipeline work."

As of 11:30 p.m., CBC News was projecting the Liberals elected in 156 seats, the Conservatives in 122, the Bloc in 32, the NDP in 24, the Greens in 3 and one Independent. 

"Just in the nick of time, quite pleased on how it worked out, said Foster.  Weve been looking forward to it, like I said nearly four years now.

"A minority government is an opportunity for all our elected leaders to reach across the aisle and demonstrate just how powerful the 'AND' conversation can be. Let's give Canada more Canada," Chamber president and CEO Sandip Lalli said.

Another election, this one unofficial, took place across the country today — the student vote. More than 1.1 million elementary and secondary school students cast ballots in the mock vote, which is hosted by CIVIX, a non-partisan charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through citizenship education, and in partnership with Elections Canada. 

In Alberta, 46 per cent of students voted Conservative, leading to a hypothetical 30 seats for the party. Just 13 per cent of students voted Liberal, with one seat for the party in Edmonton Mill Woods, while 21 per cent voted NDP, with two seats in Calgary Forest Lawn and Calgary Skyview.

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