Calgary Centre swings to the Liberals in a see-saw battle

Volunteers and supporters at Joan Crockatt’s headquarters swung from excitement to concern throughout election night Oct. 19, but in the end, there was no curtain call for the Conservative MP.

Calgary Centre, which has been represented by either Conservative and Reform MPs for 46 years, will now be represented by Liberal MP-elect Kent Hehr, who received 906 votes more than Crockatt on Oct. 19.

“I alone am responsible for any failing in this campaign,” said Crockatt, who first won the seat in a byelection in November, 2012.

“We came so close.”

Hehr garnered 28,596 votes in the downtown Calgary riding, to 27,690 for Crockatt.

There were 61,293 votes cast in Calgary Centre and a voter turnout of 72.14 per cent, in a race that see-sawed back and forth all evening, and wasn’t decided until the last few polls checked in, just before midnight, hours after the national race had been declared over.

“I accept the outcome tonight,” said Crockatt after congratulating Hehr.

“The voters in the riding said they wanted change. Democracy is never wrong.”

Crockatt said this election, the longest in modern history, was “hotly contested” from the beginning.

Despite the length, Crockatt’s campaign manager Alan Hallman said their election strategies remained the same as previous elections, just extended.

A more significant difference this election, said Hallman, was changes to the riding’s boundaries.

Calgary Centre was altered from the last byelection, with the western portion between Sarcee Trail and 37 Street S.W. lost and Inglewood gained.

“There was no doubt from the very beginning of this campaign that I thought that would hurt us,” said Hallman, who is “pretty familiar” with Calgary Centre region after working on a variety of campaigns in the area, including Ralph Klein’s.

Hallman said the Conservatives have historically more support in the western and southern districts of the riding and less support near downtown and in Inglewood.

With the help of more than 300 volunteers, Crockatt’s team focused on areas where they knew they had the most support and where voter turnout is typically higher.

I alone am responsible for any failing in this campaign – Joan Crockatt

“We came really, really close tonight,” she said to a crowd of about 30 supporters and family.

“I think that is a testament to how hard we worked.”

Right before the late night ended, Crockatt said, “We do need to get back to work.”

“I believe that the residents of Calgary Centre are fundamentally conservative,” she said.

“And I believe this riding again will have a Conservative member of Parliament.”

About Jeff Wiehler 6 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Jeff Wiehler worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2015-16 academic year.