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Federal byelection for Calgary Heritage goes July 24

The riding of former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is up for grabs in a federal byelection come Monday, months after the MP representing it called it quits.

Voters in Calgary Heritage will go to the polls on July 24 after Conservative MP Bob Benzen announced he would be leaving the seat last October.

Calgary Heritage is a southwest Calgary riding with Glenmore Trail as the north boundary, 37 Street SW to Macleod Trail as the east-west boundary on the north side of the riding, and James McKevitt Road and 85 Street SW as the east-west boundary on the southern portion. The riding’s southern boundary is Highway 22X.

The riding was first formed in 2012 after a redistribution and members were elected to Calgary Heritage for the first time in 2015. It was formerly the riding of Calgary Southwest. According to 2019 data, there are roughly 81,736 electors in the area.

There are eight candidates running for the MP job in Calgary Heritage. LWC talked with three (attempted a fourth) for their thoughts on their candidacy, the riding and how they would represent the area.

Elliot Weinstein – Liberal Party of Canada

Elliot Weinstein said he’s always been interested in the democratic process – he said it’s incredibly important. Putting his name forward for public office is something he’s wanted to do for some time.

“It’s what makes our country; having the opportunity to cast your ballot and vote for the person who you think represents what your interests are,” he told LiveWire Calgary.

Weinstein, who owns indoor beach volleyball outfit The Beach YYC, said he knows the cost of living is on everyone’s minds. At the doors, he said he’s heard a lot about taxes.

“I know what it’s like to want to work hard and keep as much money for ourselves or for myself as I can and be able to support myself and my family. I have a young son who will turn three in a few short weeks here,” Weinstein said.

“But as well, I strongly believe in the social side in this – doing good for our community, which is everybody in Canada.”

Originally from Richmond, BC, Weinstein moved to Calgary more than 20 years ago. He has an undergrad in international relations and an MBA with a focus on energy and sustainability.

He said he’s talked taxes, energy, climate and other issues at the doors. One issue he said is top of mind is affordable housing.

He’s also heard dissatisfaction at the door with leaders of Canada’s main political parties. That’s why he’s just been focused on what he can bring to the residents of Calgary-Heritage.

“I’m doing my best to kind of put myself forward and make the election about who I am and what I can do for the people here and leave the rest of it alone,” he said.

Gurmit Bhachu – New Democratic Party of Canada

When Gurmit Bhachu first moved to Calgary back in 2004, he said he was taken aback by just how conservative Calgary was.

“I didn’t realize the dichotomy between Edmonton and Calgary as far as progressiveness goes,” he told LiveWire Calgary.

Interestingly, Stephen Harper was Prime Minister at the time, and Bhachu said he would participate in protests outside of Harper’s constituency office.

“Then from there, I felt like maybe I need to do more,” he said.

Bhachu said he spent time dispelling online myths – particularly those pertaining to hate and racism in a post 9/11 world. Then, he set his sight on the community, spending eight years with the Canyon Meadows Community Association, serving two years as president. That’s where he learned more about governance.

From there, Bhachu, who was born in India and moved to Canada when he was six months old, helped form the Fish Creek Constituency Association for the Alberta NDP. In 2019, he co-managed the campaign of Rebecca Bounsall for the Alberta provincial election.

A teacher by trade, Bhachu said he sees a classroom as a microcosm of society.

“Especially in public schools, you see societal issues taking place in your classroom,” he said.

“There are things you can’t help with; like you want every child to succeed, but you can’t help them be successful when society is causing them the issues. Those kinds of things combined, led to my political activism and getting involved politically.”

He, too, said cost of living was top of mind for voters in Calgary-Heritage. Bhachu said he believes a lot of the inflation is due to corporate greed. That’s why he believes in the windfall tax proposal put forth by the NDP.

Bhachu said housing is also an issue – but it’s long been an issue, he said.

“Housing shouldn’t be used as a commodity,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be used something that you buy, you flip to make money off, because that’s just driving up the rates for everybody else.”

He said his experience in the community sets him apart from the other candidates in the field.

Dan Irving – Maverick Party of Canada

Dan Irving said he’s running to ensure there’s a voice for the citizens of Calgary-Heritage in Ottawa. That’s the biggest thing lacking – even from the current conservative party, he said – in federal politics today.

“Our MPs have forgotten us up here in the West,” Irving told LiveWire Calgary.

“They come they get the seat and then they go to Ontario and sit in Ottawa and play for Ontario, Quebec.”

Irving, a farrier by trade who now works in landscaping, moved to Calgary 16 years ago from Ontario. He joked that he moved out here to get away from Ontario but would go back to ensure the people of Calgary-Heritage had someone that was representing them.

Like the others, Irving said taxes and affordability are what he’s hearing from residents.

“I see people left, right and center, and they’re struggling. I see families in the grocery stores, struggling with ‘can I get this, can I get that?” Irving said.

He said by voting for any of the other parties in this election won’t help the ongoing power struggle in Ottawa. Electing a Maverick representative to the House of Commons would send a message, Irving said.

“That is why we need to start sending people to Ottawa that actually starts this thing,” he said.

“Me sitting there would actually make all the other parties start saying, ‘you know what, we need to start listening to our riding, to our MPs that are in the West, and they need to start listening to the people in the West, because you don’t want them to start losing votes and start losing seats.”

Shuv Majumdar – Conservative Party of Canada

Shuv Majumdar was the first candidate we contacted for this story. We reached his constituency office and they directed LWC to his direct contact. LWC left a message with him for an interview but didn’t receive a response or a return call.

According to Majumdar’s webpage, he’s the son of Indian-origin immigrants to Canada. He’s been involved in Canada’s conservative movement since the late 1990s with the Reform Party.

Majumdar has served in leadership roles helping promote democratic reform in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s also a Queen’s Golden Jubilee recipient and a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee recipient (2023).

His website states that he’s known CPC leader Pierre Poilievre since their days at the University of Calgary.

“Shuv is determined to make Pierre the next Prime Minister of Canada, and serve as a strong voice for Calgarians and Albertans,” the website reads.

In a video on his webpage, Majumdar said he needs voters help to send a message to the Justin Trudeau Liberals.

“A message that hope is on the way for hardworking Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet under the burden of ever-rising taxes and cost of living,” Majumdar says in the video.

Other candidates

Also running in the riding are the following:

Voters in the Calgary Heritage riding should look at their voter information card for details on where to vote.

For more information on the July 24 byelection Calgary-Heritage, you can go here.