EDMONTON — Rolling to victory across Canada on Monday, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals also carved out a tiny — but historic — beachhead of four seats at the base of the Conservative fortress in Alberta.
Darshan Kang and Kent Hehr — both former provincial legislature members — became the first federal Liberals elected in Calgary in almost half a century.
Kang edged out Conservative incumbent Devinder Shory in a nailbiter in Calgary Skyview. Hehr upset Conservative incumbent Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre.
The last Liberal to win in Calgary was Patrick Mahoney in Calgary-South in 1968. It was one of four Alberta seats taken by the Liberals in the euphoria of Trudeaumania under Trudeau’s father, Pierre.
A tent outside Kang’s campaign office was crammed to the edges by the time the results were official.
Bollywood-style music blared as Kang made his way through the raucous crowd to deliver his victory speech.
He acknowledged the historical significance of the occasion, calling it a “new dawn” for someone who came to Canada from India’s Punjab 45 years ago.
“This country gave me a chance to build my life and my family,” he said. “In Canada the sky is the limit if one is willing to work hard.”
Hehr call the victory the greatest moment of his life.
“I believe we have changed this city and Canada for the better,” said Hehr. “I’ve had a lot of great moments in my life, but truly going to Ottawa to represent a better future for this great city and this great country, nothing has come close.”
In Edmonton Mill Woods, Liberal Amarjeet Sohi, a city councillor, took down Conservative cabinet minister Tim Uppal by just 80 votes.
“Today you’ve defeated the politics of division!” Sohi shouted to the cheering crowd.
In Edmonton Centre, Liberal candidate Randy Boissonnault knocked out a fellow rookie, Conservative James Cumming.
It had been a long time in the political desert for federal Liberals in Alberta. The party last won a federal seat when cabinet minister Anne McLellan and David Kilgour triumphed in Edmonton in the 2004 campaign.
Political scientist Chaldeans Mensah said the late surge in popularity by the Liberals helped them break new ground in Calgary while splitting the vote and costing the NDP in their traditional base in Edmonton.
“In terms of Alberta, the Conservative support has really held from the fact that the Trudeau wave resulted in a split,” said Mensah, with MacEwan University in Edmonton.
Stephen Harper’s team once again won all but a handful of seats in the province.
Harper, Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Jason Kenney were among those winning again. Other members of Harper’s cabinet — Michelle Rempel, Kevin Sorenson, and Deepak Obhrai — were also re-elected.
NDP incumbent Linda Duncan, the only non-Conservative elected in the last campaign in 2011, won in Edmonton-Strathcona for a third term.
The New Democrats had hoped the history-making May election victory by Rachel Notley and the provincial wing of the party would aid federal fortunes, but it was reduced to third-party status.
The NDP has always been a mere pinprick on Alberta’s federal electoral map. Only two NDPers have ever won in the province: Ross Harvey in Edmonton East in 1988 and Duncan in 2008, 2011 and 2015.
Duncan said the NDP MPs would hold the Liberals accountable and she predicted the party will be back.
“We’ve got four years to build and we’re going to do it this time,” she said.
— With files from Lauren Krugel and Ian Bickis in Calgary and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press