Stephen Harper may be gone from federal politics but the former prime minister’s Calgary riding and that of former Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney remained true blue in a pair of byelections Monday.
In Calgary Heritage, Bob Benzen was leading with about 70 per cent of the vote, well clear of the Liberals’ Scott Forsyth at 22.6 per cent.
“Many people have pointed out to me that I have some really big shoes to fill and it’s true,” Benzen told cheering supporters.
He thanked Harper for his friendship and advice during the campaign and also the former prime minister’s wife, Laureen, his youngest brother, Robert, and his mother, Margaret.
“Once again the voters in Calgary Heritage have elected a Conservative to elect the productive middle-class values of prudence, hard work, merit and risk taking,” said Robert Harper, who served as Benzen’s honorary campaign chairman.
“The voters of Calgary Heritage have once again rejected the false gleam of the Jane Austen middle class (to) which Justin Trudeau belongs.
“Bob, like real middle-class Canadians, knows that doing a job means working hard and doing the job he’s been elected to, unlike a middle-aged Justin Trudeau, who acts like a preening adolescent, pretending to do a job.”
Benzen told reporters voters have sent a message to the federal Liberals that they do not want a carbon tax and need support for jobs, especially in the struggling energy sector.
He said it was essential that the Conservatives maintain Harper’s legacy in Calgary Heritage.
“If I couldn’t hold the prime minister’s riding that would have been a terrible defeat for me and a terrible defeat for the Conservative party,” Benzen said.
In Calgary Midnapore, Conservative Stephanie Kusie cruised to an easy win, posting 76.5 per cent of the vote with just over half of polls reporting, leaving her closest rival Liberal candidate Haley Brown at 17.6 per cent.
“I would like to thank the Conservative Party of Canada, the 22nd prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, and 19-year member of Parliament and my predecessor Jason Kenney,” Kusie said.
She told reporters that the byelections in Calgary have given a voice to those who are frustrated with the way things have been going.
“I think it sends a message that the Liberal Party policies, Justin’s policies, are not working here in Calgary Midnapore. The electorate has shown that…they are not satisfied with the job the Liberal Party is doing.”
Advance polls for both ridings were held on March 24, 25, 26 and 27.
In total, five seats were up for grabs in the byelection, including two in Ontario and one in Quebec.
Calgary-Heritage candidate list:
Khalis Ahmed – New Democratic Party
Bob Benzen – Conservative Party of Canada
Scott Forsyth – Liberal Party of Canada
Stephen J. Garvey – National Advancement Party of Canada
Darcy Gerow – Libertarian Party of Canada
Taryn Knorren – Green Party of Canada
Jeff Willerton – Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Calgary-Midnapore candidate list:
Haley Brown – Liberal Party of Canada
Kulbir Singh Chawla – National Advancement Party of Canada
Larry R. Heather – Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Holly Heffernan – New Democratic Party
Stephanie Kusie – Conservative Party of Canada
Ryan Zedic – Green Party of Canada
With files from Melissa Gilligan