11/27/2012 01:43 EST | Updated 01/26/2013 05:12 EST

Calgary Centre Byelection: Vote Splitting Keeps Riding Conservative


CALGARY - Harvey Locke was hoping to do something that a federal Liberal hasn't accomplished in 44 years — give his party a Calgary seat in the House of Commons.

It was 1968 when Calgary last elected a Liberal MP and it's going to be a while before that happens again after the results of Monday's byelection in Calgary Centre.

Despite high profile support including former prime minister Paul Martin and federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau to help him campaign, the lawyer and conservationist wasn't able to pull off a victory in the longtime Conservative stronghold.

Instead it was Conservative Joan Crockatt, a former journalist and political pundit, who pulled out the victory.

"At the end of the day the Conservatives won this riding and we're very, very pleased with that. I will work very hard to represent all the constituents of this riding," Crockatt told reporters after her victory speech.

She called the election a nailbiter but said it was indicative of what you would see with a new candidate running for a majority government.

"This whole byelection for me has been a new experience and I think I just have taken it as it has unfolded. We won tonight. I'm very gratified about it."

Locke, who at one point during the evening was neck and neck with Crockatt, eventually came over to wish her luck in Ottawa. Crockatt won 36.9 per cent of the popular vote compared to 32.7 per cent for the Liberals.

"Sixty-three per cent of the people in Calgary Centre did not vote Conservative," said Locke.

"That tells you about the diversity here. I think we've shown the Liberal Party of Canada is competitive to win an election in Calgary. We'll be back."

As for his loss, Locke didn't blame the controversy surrounding remarks by former Liberal energy critic David McGuinty about Alberta MPs only being interested in defending the energy sector or for two-year-old comments made by Trudeau that were critical of the dominance of Alberta politicians in Canada.

"I think I lost all on my own. It was my race to lose and I lost it."

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