CANMORE – Blake Richards has been re-elected for a fifth term by voters in the Banff-Airdrie federal riding.
Richards, the longtime Conservative Party MP, will return to Ottawa after early poll results show him commanding more than 50 per cent of the vote.
A spokesperson for Richards communications team declined multiple attempts late last week and Monday afternoon to set up an interview with Richards Monday night.
The riding is one of the safest Conservative Party strongholds in the country and has featured a Conservative MP since the Canadian Alliance won in 2000.
In 2019, Richards received 71.09 per cent of the vote and his previous lowest total was 63.37 per cent in 2015. The highest percentage he got was 74.7 per cent in 2011 in the former Wild Rose riding.
This election saw nine candidates come forward, featuring the usual Liberal, NDP and Green candidates but it also had three independents, the newly created Maverick Party and a return of the People’s Party of Canada.
Since the election was called on Aug. 15, candidates made appearances throughout the region and there were three election forums in Canmore, Airdrie and Cochrane.
The only Bow Valley candidate in the Banff-Airdrie riding, the Green Party’s Aidan Blum, congratulated Richards on his win.
“I would urge him to not take this victory too well, though,” he said.
“He has been comfortable in this riding since 2008 and a lot of people have not been given the support they need.”
While disappointed in the result, Blum knew it was a long shot from the get-go.
He said one of his goals was to get his name known, face recognized and issues discussed.
“It was a long road for a progressive in this riding and this province,” he said. “But I wanted to be out there and start building that trust.”
With Richards heading back to Ottawa, Blum said he hopes Richards takes more seriously the climate crisis and the housing crisis, including in the Bow Valley where housing is extremely expensive and out of reach for many.
“I think there is an appetite for different views, different new ideas and different strategies,” he said.
The Banff-Airdrie riding has 110,509 registered electors, according to statistics from Elections Canada.
The advance polls were busy again, with 27,124 casting their vote prior to the Oct. 18 election and represent 24.5 per cent of voters in the region. The number was a small increase from when 25,818 Banff-Airdrie voters went to advanced polls in 2019.
The area has regularly featured a strong turnout, with 73.1 per cent of eligible voters coming out in 2019 and 73.25 per cent in 2015.
The Banff-Airdrie riding is unique in its large geographical size of 12,358 square kilometres and featuring the more left-leaning communities of Banff and Canmore in the west to the more conservative leaning Airdrie and Cochrane in the east.
The Bow Valley has issues revolving around tourism and the environment, with the eastern region – which features the higher population – has priorities of industrial and manufacturing needs.
– With files from Cathy Ellis