Conservatives win Calgary Centre, but vote closer than expected
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 9:44AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:05PM EST
Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt eked out a win in Calgary Centre over Liberal Harvey Locke in one of three federal byelections Monday night, winning 37 per cent of the popular vote -- the lowest for a winning candidate in the Tory stronghold’s 44-year existence.
Three federal ridings remained in the same political hands after the byelections, but the tight race in Calgary Centre -- and a close call for the New Democrats in Victoria -- made the proceedings more of a battle than anticipated.
On Tuesday, Crockatt celebrated her win.
“Calgary Centre residents decided to put their faith in me and the Conservative Party to steer the economy and the country forward as usual, and I will work very hard to live up to that task,” Crockatt told CTV’s Power Play Tuesday evening.
While the riding should have been a slam dunk for the Conservatives, polls heading into election night put Locke and Crockatt in a tight race. Anti-Alberta comments by Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau and Liberal MP David McGuinty were blamed for taking the wind out of Locke’s sails, along with Crockatt’s past support for the Alberta Wildrose Party.
In comments from a 2010 interview that were revived last week, Trudeau lamented that Albertans “control our community and socio-democratic agenda.”
McGuinty resigned his post as natural resources critic last week after calling Alberta MPs “shills” for the oil industry and suggesting that they go back to the province.
Crockatt said Tuesday she believed the comments “played into this campaign, to say otherwise I don’t think would be completely fair.”
She said Alberta residents feel a hostility directed towards them by the Liberal Party, long-standing resentments that date back to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program.
“But in a byelection I think (voters) tend to focus a little less on party and a little more on candidate, because they know that they’re not going to be changing the government with their vote,” Crockatt said.
In the end, Locke received nearly 33 per cent of the popular vote, matching a Liberal high for the riding set in 1993. Green candidate Chris Turner was a strong third with 25 per cent of the vote.
"I think that the question for me as a Liberal that has been answered tonight is can a Liberal run competitively in Calgary and the answer is unquestionably, yes,” Locke said.
In Victoria, NDP candidate Murray Rankin was finally declared the winner after swapping the lead several times with Green candidate Donald Galloway.
Rankin said Tuesday he was surprised by the Green surge, but also understood that organizers from Leader Elizabeth May’s next-door riding had flooded Victoria to help with Galloway’s campaign.
“I think the dynamic of a byelection is also really interesting because it’s not like you can defeat the government,” Rankin told Power Play, echoing Crockatt’s sentiments. “So people probably felt a little bit more flexible than they otherwise would if it were a general election.”
May said she felt momentum for her party in both ridings, because of her message for voters.
“What we were really offering to voters that was different was, elect a Green MP and you’ll have someone who works for you, and not for the spin doctors in some back room,” May told Power Play.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who was in Victoria for the vote, said he knew the riding would be “a tough fight.”
The third riding to select a new MP, the Ontario riding of Durham, chose Conservative candidate Erin O’Toole to replace former cabinet minister Bev Oda. O’Toole won the riding with more than 50 per cent of the vote, while NDP candidate Larry O’Connor finished with 26.8 per cent of the vote. Liberal candidate Grant Hume won 17 per cent of the vote.
With files from The Canadian Press