NDP loses ground in Calgary but retains three seats

Volunteers say the economic downturn was too big an obstacle to overcome

Joe Ceci is congratulated by a NDP supporters for being elected in the Alberta election result at Calgary headquarters on April 16, 2019. (Azin Ghaffari / LiveWire Calgary)

Two of the just three Alberta NDP candidates re-elected in Calgary tried to be optimistic about becoming the opposition party Tuesday night, while some supporters admitted the economy was too tough an environment for the party to retain power.

While some races were still too close to call, as of late Tuesday night, the NDP were projected to win just three Calgary ridings: Kathleen Ganley in Calgary-Mountain View, Joe Ceci in Calgary-Buffalo, and Ifran Sabir in Calgary-McCall.

Ceci credited his reelection to his personal following going back to his days as a Calgary city councillor.

“I represented them as a city councillor for 15 years – the part that joined Buffalo – and then four years as an MLA,” Ceci said.

“I think that 19-year history and background where people know me, who I am and my values and know the work I’ve done came through tonight.”

Sabir said that he had won re-election because of his specific work for his riding.

“I think I have worked hard and stayed connected with the people of McCall, and also focused on their priorities – schools, infrastructure, a link from Stoney Trail to the airport,” said Sabir.

Both candidates reacted positively to NDP leader Rachel Notley announcing she will stay on as Leader of the Opposition.

“We’re going to work our asses off,” said Ceci, when asked how he saw the NDP operating the next four years in opposition.

Although the landslide UCP victory was projected by most polls for weeks, one NDP volunteer still hoped for a miracle.

“The polls seemed to be correct this time, which they haven’t been for the last few elections,” said Janice Nelson, a volunteer with Ceci’s campaign.

NDP supporters follow the Alberta election result at Calgary headquarters on April 16, 2019. (Azin Ghaffari / LiveWire Calgary)

Nelson felt the NDP had momentum, and that had the election gone longer the result may have been different.

“It seemed like people were finally starting to listen to some of the arguments about some of the (UCP) scandals, but also examining some of the platform pieces that the NDP had.”

Local carpenter Mike Dunn said that while he was hoping the NDP would have a stronger showing in Calgary, he was still not surprised.

“When you talk about what’s happened with the right-wing politics with the last four or five years, it’s been one long screaming match just to be heard,” said Dunn.

“They have the loudest megaphones, and money to buy more.”

Still, though, Dunn said that the economy was too big an obstacle.

“When they blame people, they only blame the people they can change, and that’s the government. They can’t blame businesses for laying them off – they can, but they don’t, because they can’t change the shareholders (or) the board of directors.”

Nelson also emphasized the difficulty of being re-elected in a tough economy.

“I think any government that came into power in 2015 was walking into power in a terrible situation, and I think no matter what government it was would be losing right now,” said Nelson.

She praised the NDP’s effort in tackling that impossible situation.

“It didn’t bring about the economic result everybody wanted, but I really don’t think any government was going to be able to do that.”

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