‘It’s pretty sleepy’: Calgary Heritage byelection to fill vacant Conservative seat

A federal byelection is being held in Calgary on Monday to fill a seat left vacant since a Conservative MP called it quits last year, but the outcome isn’t expected to have much of a ripple effect across the country.

Conservative Bob 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.

“I doubt they will get big numbers because 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. I expect it’s going to be a low voter turnout.”

Eight candidates are now battling for votes, including Shuvaloy Majumdar, a long-time Conservative staffer who won the party’s nomination in March.

Majumdar is a former policy adviser to Harper and former Conservative foreign minister John Baird. He currently works with Harper’s international consulting firm.

Elliot Weinstein, the owner and president of an indoor beach recreation facility called The Beach YYC, is the Liberal candidate. He received a visit at one of his fundraisers from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the Calgary Stampede.

Gurmit Bhachu is the NDP candidate, while Dan Irving represents the Maverick Party. Ravenmoon Crocker is the Green Party candidate and Kelly Lorencz will carry the banner for the People’s Party of Canada.

“As near as I can tell, it’s a race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. This is seen as a safe Conservative seat,” Williams said.

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 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’s nothing to capture the attention, nothing that looks like it’s going to make any difference and it’s in the depths of summer right after Stampede.”

Williams said it would likely take a loss by the Conservatives to earn the story a spot on the national news.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2023.

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