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‘We sent Justin Trudeau a message’: Conservatives notch Calgary byelection win

The federal Conservatives coasted to victory Monday to fill a seat left vacant after MP Bob Benzen called it quits last year.

The federal Conservatives coasted to victory Monday to fill a seat left vacant after MP Bob Benzen called it quits last year.

Benzen, who was elected to represent the area in 2017, announced he would resign his seat in Calgary Heritage and return to private life at the end of last year.

Most of Calgary Heritage used to be part of the riding of Calgary Southwest, a seat held by former prime minister Stephen Harper until his retirement.

Voting stayed true to form with Shuvaloy Majumdar, a former policy adviser to Stephen Harper and former Conservative foreign minister John Baird, winning 65 percent of the vote.

“We sent Justin Trudeau a message tonight, didn’t we?” Majumdar said to loud cheers.

“I wanted to go over to Liberal headquarters to invite them to participate in our celebration here tonight. The only problem was there were no direct flights from Calgary to Beijing.”

Liberal candidate Elliot Weinstein and Gurmit Bhachu of the NDP candidate were in a virtual tie for second and third with just a few polls remaining.

Voter turnout was low with just over 28 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.

“This is seen as a safe Conservative seat,” said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot going on. It’s pretty sleepy.”

Majumdar said he had thousands of conversations across the riding during the campaign and Canadians are hurting.

“I’ve seen the hurt. I’ve seen the pain. I have seen the tears well up in the eyes of our neighbours. I’ve seen their throats choke with the pressure of their day-to-day lives. I see you. You are heard and thank you for your trust in me,” he said.

He also paid tribute to his heritage.

“What an amazing thing it is that this kid born of Indian origin…could go on to serve in the highest offices of this land and now stands before you as the next Conservative member of Parliament for Calgary Heritage.”

Four byelections held June 19 garnered more attention where the Liberals and Conservatives won two apiece.

“Every one of those had something interesting going on,” Williams said.

Two seats from high-profile politicians in Manitoba were left vacant after the death of Liberal cabinet minister Jim Carr and the resignation of former Conservative interim leader Candice Bergen.

Carr’s son Ben Carr won the Winnipeg South Centre seat for the Liberals and Conservative Branden Leslie won in Portage-Lisgar, a riding People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was also running in.

“It was something that made it look like there could be some gains or losses possible and we’re not seeing that here,” Williams said.

“There was nothing to capture the attention, nothing that looked like it’s going to make any difference.”