By Annalise Klingbeil, Calgary Herald
Former two-term Liberal MLA Darshan Kang made history by ending a 47-year-old federal Liberal drought in Calgary on Monday evening.
Kang snatched the diverse Calgary Skyview riding from Conservative incumbent Devinder Shory and became the first Liberal MP to be elected in Calgary since 1968, under the first wave of Trudeaumania.
“I’m feeling great. I’m glad it’s over,” said Kang after declaring victory, as supporters cheered.
“I can’t explain it in a word. I don’t have the words. I’m honoured and privileged. I want to thank all the constituents of Calgary Skyview who made this possible.”
Kang’s tiny northeast campaign office was a hive of activity on Monday, packed with people cheering, dancing, and gleefully shouting as they crowded into an adjacent tent to watch election results come in.
Nearby, at Shory’s strip mall campaign headquarters, the Tory hopeful was nowhere to be seen as a handful of people sat in a quiet room and watched results trickle in.
Shory could not be reached for comment as results came in Monday, but earlier in the evening as polls closed, he told the Herald he was feeling optimistic.
“We’ve been working very hard for the last two months and I’m very happy and very proud of my team,” he said.
“I’ve had a very positive relationship with my constituents for the last seven years.”
Shory said he repeatedly heard at doorsteps that people were concerned about the economy and the “safety and security of Canada.”
Late in the evening, Shory’s campaign strategist spoke to media and said a post-mortem was planed “to figure out in more detail what happened here.”
“As far as the ground game, we felt we put together a strong position and communication at the door. I think ultimately there was a lot of undecided people and we’ll have to think more in detail why undecided went with Liberals,” said campaign strategist Steven Ladd.
Ladd said Shory was a strong advocate for the riding and he plans to continue to be involved in the community despite Monday’s loss.
Earlier in the night, Kang said he was feeling great but expecting a tight race.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” the 64-year-old said.
Kang is no stranger to tight election races — he was first elected as an MLA in Calgary-McCall in the 2008 provincial election by just 118 votes.
Located in the city’s northeast, Calgary Skyview was labelled a potential battleground when the election campaign launched 11 weeks ago. In recent weeks, political scientists said they believed the diverse riding could tip to the Grits.
Kang’s win came after more than 2,000 people showed up to a raucous rally hosted by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in Calgary Skyview on the final day of campaigning Sunday.
Calgary Skyview is home to more than 11,000 residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse ridings in Alberta. It’s a new riding, created through redistribution, and replaces the Calgary Northeast constituency.
Eight candidates vied to represent voters in Calgary Skyview.
Sahajvir Singh, 34, owns a land investment company and ran for the NDP, while Ed Reddy, 45, a former soldier who now works as an oilpatch consultant ran for the Green Party.
Realtor Najeeb Butt, 59, ran for the Progressive Canadian Party and Daniel Blanchard, 28, ran for the Marxist-Leninist Party.
Independent candidate Joseph Young, 68, a member of the Communist League in Canada, and Democratic Advancement Party Leader Stephen Garvey, 50, also ran in Calgary Skyview.
Shory, 58, won the former Calgary Northeast riding with 56 per cent of the vote in the 2011 election. The two-term MP worked as a lawyer before he was first elected in the 2008 federal election.
Kang served part of the riding as a provincial Liberal MLA in the constituency of Calgary-McCall, but opted not to run for re-election in the May provincial election, instead stepping aside to run federally for the Grits.