Conservative Blaine Calkins re-elected in Red Deer-Lacombe

Conservative Party candidate and re-elected Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins cuts a congratulatory cake with his wife, Barbara Calkins, after he was declared re-elected during Canada's 43 general election on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 at his Red Deer campaign office. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)

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Blaine Calkins will be going to Ottawa for a fifth straight term.

Red Deer-Lacombe’s incumbent Conservative Party Member of Parliament was re-elected in Canada’s 43rd general election Monday, soundly defeating his NDP, Liberal, PPC and Green Party challengers with 80 per cent of the vote.

It was a bittersweet victory, however, for the veteran MP, who will once again return to Ottawa as part of the official opposition with a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal minority government.

“I’m taking the small victories that I can tonight on behalf of Alberta, and that is Justin Trudeau will not be able to do anything in the House of Commons without someone’s help or support, which means he’s going to have to start listening to other parts of Canada,” Calkins said, speaking to media shortly after he was declared re-elected.

“It’s not the result that I think everyone in the room was hoping for, but it’s not the worst-case scenario…We’re going to send down a very strong contingent in Alberta to stand up for what’s important here – jobs, prosperity, growth, and being treated as full and equal partners in the confederation. That’s going to be our job.”

Calkins finished the night with 52,684 votes, far ahead of the NDP’s Lauren Pezzella who had 5,888 votes, and Liberal Tiffany Rose 3,437. People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson came in fourth with 2,408, while the Green Party’s Sarah Palmer had 1,553 and came in fifth.

It was an increase from his win in 2015  where he had 43,599 votes, or 70.71 per cent.

He said he’d take his “very strong mandate” to Ottawa to hold Trudeau to account – but didn’t expect it would be long before Canadians went back to the polls.

“Folks, don’t bring your signs back – just put them in the garage,” Calkins joked.

What wasn’t a joking matter, however, was talk of what a Liberal minority means for Alberta. Calkins, the Alberta Caucus Chair at the time of dissolution, said he was well aware of western alienation and Alberta separation sentiments. As results came in, #Wexit and #albertaseparation started trending on Twitter.

Calkins placed the blame on Trudeau’s handling of pipelines, and killing the growth and economic opportunity in the province, which has lost more than 130,000 jobs in the energy sector,

“Albertans are very impatient at the moment right now – we have every reason to be impatient with the current federal government,” he said. “My job is to go back to Ottawa, regroup and be ready to go again in the very near future because Canada needs a change in direction – Alberta needs a change in direction and I’m just going to ask my fellow Albertans to be patient.”

There were positives on the night, however, including Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer winning the popular vote with 6,022,166 votes over Trudeau with 5,769,179 votes with 98.3 per cent of polls reporting. The unseating of People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader and ex-Tory Maxime Bernier by Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux also drew cheers from the crowd of over 60 people at Calkins results party, particularly as the local campaign sent $50,000 to the campaign in Beauce.

Lehoux phoned into the campaign office to give a personal thank you to Conservative supporters in Red Deer-Lacombe.