Calgary Municipal Politics

Persons of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Calgary Municipal Politics, Featured Posts, Person of the Year, Toronto Municipal Politics | Comments Off on Persons of the Year

Every December, I like to name a “Person of the Year” – the individual who left their mark on Canadian politics over the past year. The only rules are that the PM is too obvious a choice, and that lame picks (“You!”) are strictly verboten. The Person of the Year doesn’t need to be someone who used the force for the powers of good, or someone I like – just someone who made a difference. So, yeah, crack smoking mayors and disgraced senators are certainly eligible. Below is a list of recent choices:

2012: Allison Redford
2011: Jack Layton
2010: Rob Ford and Naheed Nenshi
2009: Jim Flaherty
2008: Stephane Dion
2007: Jean Charest
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2005: Belinda Stronach
2004: Ralph Klein

2013 was not a banner year for Canadian politics. There were some positives, including an overdue free trade deal with the EU, and an overdue debate on Prime Ministerial influence. But for every good news story there was Rob Anders being Rob Anders, Dean Del Mastro and Peter Penashue breaking election laws, and Paul Calandra turning Question Period into a joke.

However all stories, good and bad, were overshadowed by a year-long senate scandal (with a little Robocon thrown in for seasoning). This certainly leaves Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy as candidates for “person of the year”, but I’m less convinced than some about the long-term damage this controversy will inflict on Harper.

As is often the case in the midst of majority mandates in Ottawa, the was more action at the provincial level – but it was equally depressing. In Ontario, Kathleen Wynne’s win was inspiring, but she spent the year answering questions about the gas plant cancelation. Christy Clark pulled off a small miracle in BC, but the moral of that story was that going negative works. The most repugnant development of the year was Pauline Marois’ Values Charter which took direct aim at minorities. More troubling than the Charter is that Marois sees it as a path to re-election.

However it was municipal politicians than rose to the top of the cesspool than was Canadian politics in 2013. London Mayor Joe Fontana is going to trial on fraud charges. Somehow, both Montreal and Laval saw their interim mayors resign, both appointed after corruption scandals destroyed their predecessors. And the mayor of Huntingdon Quebec told a radio station he enjoyed killing cats. You can’t make this stuff up.

Of course, one man became the face of controversy, not just in Canada – but around the world. That doesn’t neccesarily make him the person of the year. While many Torontonians will disagree, Toronto is just a city, and it’s not like Ford’s Prime Ministerial ambitions were ever going to materialize, scandal or not. But people spent so much time talking about “Toronto’s crack smoking mayor” this year that it would be foolish to assume the entire fiasco won’t have some impact, however subtle, on the way voters look at politicians.

So, yes, Rob Ford is once again my Person of the Year, as the politician who came to represent all that is wrong with Canadian politics. However, after being visited by the ghost of elections past last night, I’ve realized there is still some good in the world, so Ford will only share the title:

2013 Persons of the Year: Rob Ford & Naheed Nenshi

ford nenshi

Rob Ford and Naheed Nenshi will always be linked. They were elected within a week of each other, both running as anti-establishment outsiders against more polished, but overly cautious opponents. Yes, the kinds of people who voted for them may have been different, but a vote for Nenshi or a vote for Ford was a vote for change regardless of whether you were a commuter from Etobicoke or a student in downtown Calgary.

What made their elections so remarkable was that it looked like they had been body switched as some sort of Canadian Freaky Friday rip-off. Here were the liberal elites in Toronto voting for a foul mouthed football coach with a DUI who had been kicked out of a Leafs game for unruly behaviour. Meanwhile, the redneck yokels in Calgary were going with the Harvard-educated Muslim professor, who blogged about urban sprawl in his spare time. Never have two politicians been so similar and yet so different.

Since then, the caricatures have only grown more pronounced. There’s no need to recap Ford’s hijinx here, because I know you’ve had more than enough Rob Ford news to eat this year – he has been the subject of daily Daily Show coverage, viral parodies, and an entire gag gift industry. The man is now so well known in the US that he is not just the joke on late night talk shows, but the punch line. He tackles councillors, calls reporter pedophiles, and gives children the finger. And that’s just a typical Tuesday.

While not as infamous, Nenshi has built a reputation of his own. He is a Twitter sensation, has his face glued on “superman” posters, makes it onto Ontarians’ Christmas lists, and, somehow, was named the sexiest Calgarian. His leadership in the wake of the Alberta floods was textbook, at one point staying awake for 43 hours in a row, prompting a #nap4nenshi campaign. Even in the midst of the turmoil, Nenshi landed zingers, most memorably invoking Darwin’s Law as he warned Calgarians not to raft on the crested Bow river. When Toronto was hit with a flash flood a few weeks later, it’s no wonder Torontonians asked if they could borrow Nenshi.

Indeed, one of the most remarkable side-effects of the Ford and Nenshi phenomena is a genuine sense of “Calgary envy” in downtown Toronto. No longer can Torontonians look down on Calgary as an uncouth conservative outpost. If they do, Calgarians have the ultimate comeback – the equivalent of pointing out the Leafs’ 46-year Stanley Cup drought to win hockey arguments.

In fairness, both Nenshi and Ford can point to legislative victories and defeats. Nenshi has had trouble moving much of his agenda through City Council, and raised taxes by as much as 30%, depending how you do the math. While he was handily re-elected this fall, many of the developer-friendly councillors he anti-endorsed will be joining him at City Hall.

But image is everything in politics and, in 2013, Nenshi was the angel of Canadian politics and Ford was the demon. For that, they once again share the title of Persons of the Year.

Alberta Envy

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Calgary Municipal Politics | 3 Comments

From my view in downtown Toronto, things aren’t looking so bad in “redneck” Alberta these days…

Don Iveson is 34, supports public transit and the arts - and is Edmonton's new mayor.

Don Iveson is 34, supports public transit and the arts, loves Star Trek – and is Edmonton’s new mayor.

...and this guy just got re-elected with over 75% of the vote.

…and this guy just got re-elected with over 75% of the vote.

After Miracle Victory in 2010, Nenshi Almost Unbeatable in 2013

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Calgary Municipal Politics | 6 Comments
Nenshi could come out as an Argos fan and still win the next election in a cakewalk.

Nenshi could come out as an Argos fan and still win the next election in a cakewalk.

I expect this will be my only blog post on the 2013 Calgary Mayoral election. That’s because, despite recent rumblings about a bid by talk radio titan Dave Rutherford, Naheed Nenshi appears to be almost unbeatable.

I’ll admit to being wrong about Nenshi before – here’s what I wrote a month before he won one of Canada’s most exciting municipal elections of the past decade:

Naheed is brilliant and has, hands down, the best ideas of any candidate on how to run Calgary. So, of course, he will not win.

Oops.

If there’s ever a case study in not taking elections for granted, it’s Nenshi, who sat within the margin of error of 0% at the start of the campaign. So it’s understandable that the media and political strategists are taking Rutherford’s candidacy very seriously.

The thing is, the ground was far more fertile for an upset in 2010 than it is today. That was a wide open mayoral race with no incumbent and a pair of deeply flawed frontrunners. This time we’re dealing with a re-election campaign in a city which has not voted out a sitting Mayor since the Flames moved from Atlanta. Since then, incumbents have received 80%, 93%, 90%, 92%, 73%, 82%, and 61% of the vote. If there’s one thing Calgarians like more than the Rocky Mountains and ragging on Edmonton, it’s re-electing their mayors.

At this stage, all signs point towards Nenshi’s share of the vote in October falling within that historical range. A Leger poll last November found 88% of Calgarians approve of his performance and 87% agree he deserves to be re-elected. This includes 51% who strongly believe he should be re-elected.

While there has been some recent controversy over Nenshi’s decision to hold a referendum on how to use a $52 million property tax surplus which…zzzz….sorry, the sheer boredom and irrelevance of this issue put me to sleep for a second. Living in Toronto these days, it’s hard to believe something like that could even pass for “mildly controversial”.

Yes, Canadian politics has been full of upsets in recent years. But most of these have taken the form of unpopular incumbents holding on to power. I’m at a loss to find an example of a popular incumbent losing. Things can change in 4 months, but we’re dealing with a candidate who could alienate half his base and still win re-election.

I don’t doubt that Dave Rutherford is well liked, respected, and could mobilize much of conservative Calgary. But Rutherford should look to city hall journalist Rick Bell who tried to take out a sitting mayor in 1998, only to finish with 8% of the vote.

Naheed Nenshi from 3 years ago is the perfect example of why you should never take anything for granted in politics. But Naheed Nenshi from today is the perfect example of why sometimes you really can predict the outcome with 99% confidence before the election. Dave Rutherford would be wise to save himself the time, money, and potential humiliation of fighting a campaign he realistically has no chance of winning.

A Tale of Two Cities

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Calgary Municipal Politics, Toronto Municipal Politics | Leave a comment


I had some fun last fall comparing the elections of Naheed Nenshi in Calgary and Rob Ford in Toronto. Fairly or unfairly, it appears the two will be forever linked. We got yet another example of that this week with the news that Nenshi will become the first Mayor to lead Calgary’s pride parade, after Ford became the first Mayor in over 20 years to skip Toronto’s.

Now, I don’t think anyone should be surprised by Ford’s decision. A lot of Ford’s supporters likely feel he has his priorities straight by choosing the cottage over pride. Still, there were plenty of other Pride Week events Ford could have attended, to show his support for an event which is important to his city and many of the people who live there.

Ford missed an opportunity to expand his base – instead, all he’s done is needlessly fire up his opponents.

2010 Person of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, 2010 Toronto Muncipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics, Featured Posts, Person of the Year, Toronto Municipal Politics | Leave a comment

As 2010 winds down, it’s time to pick a Calgary Grit Person of the Year for the 7th consecutive year. The criteria is simple – a person who made an impact on the Canadian political scene in 2010 (ruling out obvious choices like the PM, or lame picks like “you“).

But this was a tough year, with no obvious choice once it became clear that I couldn’t contort the criteria to give the award to Sidney Crosby.

Federally, 2010 was about as dull, meaningless, and mundane as it gets. No election. No crisis. No bold policies. No leadership races. Wake me up when it’s 2011. If I had to pick a federal politician, I’d have to go with my buddy, Tony Clement. He was, after all, at the centre of the largest stories of the year – the Census, Potash, the G20 Summit. So convinced was I that Tony should be the Man of the Year that I sent him an application form – alas, he never filed it out, so I had to look elsewhere.

Now, the “political person of the year” doesn’t have to be a politician. Ivan Fellegi and Munir Sheikh could have been joint winners for turning the Census into the unlikeliest of issues. A wild card pick might have been the kids who set up the “anti-prorogation” Facebook group. But in both cases, Harper seems to have recovered and the probability of long term damage is low.

As always, interesting candidates can be found in the provincial arena. Shawn Graham signed then unsigned the NB Hydro deal and, in the process, signed away a promising career. Danny Williams called it a night. So did Gordon Campbell, though he would have been a more deserving candidate in 2008 for his carbon tax, or in 2009 for his re-election victory and subsequent HST announcement.

All good candidates, but none really define the year that was.

In my mind, 2010 was all about municipal politics. Some people think municipal politics don’t matter, but they must if people like Jim Watson, George Smitherman, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Maurizio Bevilacqua, and Inky Mark leave provincial and federal politics for a chance to run (and in some cases, lose) municipally.

The problem is, I can’t very well pick 100 mayors as my people of the year. And selecting Rob Ford is a bit too Toronto-centric for a blog with “Calgary” in the name. So, after much thought, here are my Men of the Year:

Rob Ford and Naheed Nenshi

Of all the mayoral races in 2010, none were more fascinating, surprising, or memorable than these two. In a city overrun with “pinko cyclists”, a loud Ralph Klein clone from the suburbs drove away with it. In “redneck” Calgary, a Muslim Harvard graduate who teaches University and blogs about urban sprawl was the come from behind winner. Ford and Nenshi shattered stereotypes, prompting many to scratch their heads and wonder if we’d entered the world of bizarro politics.

Though the differences between Ford and Nenshi are obvious, their campaigns were quite similar when you get down it it. They both ran as anti-establishment outsiders. They both defined themselves early with a clear message and understandable policies. They both filled a void left open by overly cautious front runners. Yes, the kinds of people who voted for them may have been different, but a vote for Nenshi or a vote for Ford was a vote for change regardless of whether you were a commuter from Etobicoke or a student in downtown Calgary.

Beyond the immediate impact Ford and Nenshi will have on the 3.5 million Canadians they now represent is the effect their wins will have on the rest of the country. Is Ford’s win a dark omen for Dalton McGuinty or an opportunity? What does Nenshi’s victory in Calgary do to the already rocky world of Alberta provincial politics? What does this anti-establishment wave sweeping the country mean for Stephen Harper?

In addition to these questions, the lessons learned from these campaigns will last…well, at least until the next memorable election. There isn’t a politician in Canada who isn’t thinking about “the gravy train” right now. And there isn’t a campaign manager in Canada who hasn’t looked at Nenshi’s use of social media.

But above all else, in a dreary year for politics, Calgary and Toronto gave us mayoral elections worth watching and worth talking about. Which is more than can be said about just about everything else that happened politically in 2010.

2009: Jim Flaherty
2008: Stephane Dion
2007: Jean Charest
2006: Michael Ignatieff
2005: Belinda Stronach
2004: Ralph Klein

Lessons from Naheed

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics | Leave a comment

Generally speaking, the rest of Canada treats Alberta politics as nothing more than a punch line:

Calgary: If you don’t like the weather, wait 40 minutes. If you don’t like the government, wait 40 years“.

The Alberta government is considering adding ‘Liberals’ to the endangered species list“.

That sort of stuff.

Because of that, no one in Ontario would dare use an Alberta election as a case study of anything other than political silliness. And you won’t see many gushing articles on “the genius of Naheed Nenshi” the same way you will about “the genius of Rob Ford” (Ford has promised lower taxes and played to the suburbs, where all the voters live. It’s genius! What political mastermind could ever have thought of that!).

But there’s a lot the rest of Canada can learn from last night’s stunner in Calgary.

1. Social media matters: I’ve always had my doubts about the usefulness of social media in general elections. Yeah, yeah, you need to do it so the media includes you in their story about what the kids these days are blogging on the Tweeter and the Facebooks, but I’ve always been skeptical about how many votes it actually moves.

In this case, I would argue it made all the difference. Intentionally or not, the Nenshi campaign has become the best example I’ve seen of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point theory applied to politics. The simple version of Gladwell’s argument is this:

A. For an epidemic, attitude or idea to take off, it must first gain traction among mavens, the “information brokers” of society. Obviously enough, most Calgarians weren’t following mayoral candidates on Twitter this July – especially ones as obscure as Naheed Nenshi. But information brokers – the media and politicos – were. Because of this, Nenshi was able to use social media to solidify himself as the de facto “third” candidate in this race, over more recognizable faces like Kent Hehr, Wayne Stewart or Bob Hawkesworth.

B. Once an idea sets in, the connectors need to spread it. Ten thousand supporters on Facebook is impressive, but it’s just 1% of the City of Calgary. However, when those 10,000 supporters start posting stories about Naheed on their Facebook page to be seen by their hundreds of friends…you start to reach a critical mass. That’s why things tipped so suddenly in Nenshi’s favour over the course of two or three weeks.

The real success of Nenshi’s social media campaign was that it broke free of the political echo chamber. To have a tangible impact, you need to reach the non-political crowd…the kind of people who will actually change their mind based on a news story or video they see online. So the Nenshi campaign reached out to the non-political, spreading their message to places like hockey forums and online discussion boards.

The proof that Nenshi broke free of the political bubble are those 10,000 Facebook supporters – an impressive figure when you consider that Harper and Ignatieff only have 3 times that number despite having 30 times the electorate to work with.

2. Polls matter: More than ever before, polls are driving the narrative. The early buzz was all about McIver and Higgins, with Nenshi an afterthought, caught in a pack of 10 legitimate candidates grasping for air.

Then one poll showed him at 8%. Factor in the margin of error on a small sample poll where most respondents are undecided, and he was basically in Oscar Fech territory. But suddenly, Mr. 8% was seen as a the “leader of the pack” and began getting attention accordingly. With each new poll, words like “momentum” and “surging” were used to describe him.

Then, we had the real election game changer: A Leger poll with a week to go showing McIver at 32%, Higgins at 30%, and Nenshi at 30%.

Maybe those numbers were accurate, maybe Nenshi was already in first, maybe he was stuck in the mid-20s. We don’t know. We do know that if the poll had shown him in the low-to-mid 20s, say 8 or 10 points back of Barb Higgins, it’s a whole different ballgame, with Nenshi voters jumping to Higgins instead of the reverse.

3. Policy Matters: Not so much the policies themselves, but the perception of having policies.

Though Naheed might disagree with me, I’m willing to bet if you stopped Calgarians as they exited the voting booths, most of them couldn’t name you a single one of Nenshi’s policies. Sure, they’d tell you he was going to improve transit, they’d tell you he had a great vision for an inclusive city, they’d tell you he had lots of ideas about accountability. But press them for specifics and they’d be grasping for answers like Barb Higgins on a breakfast TV interview.

Yet at the same time, if you asked voters which candidate had the best policies, they’d all say Nenshi. After all, he’s the guy who memorizes neighbourhood density statistics the way sports junkies know how many goals their favourite hockey players scored last year. Nenshi was releasing policies and his image was of “the policy guy”, so everyone assumed he had a plan.

That was the idea behind the Liberal red book in 1993. No one ever read the red book, but knowing it was there projected the imagine that there was a plan and a vision.

Talking to non-political Calgarians I know, their biggest complaint with Higgins was that they didn’t know what she stood for. These same people didn’t really know what exactly Nenshi stood for but they knew he stood for something.

Which was more than could be said about his opponents.

4. Release your platform early to define yourself: Nenshi jumped out of the gate, releasing policy throughout the summer, when only the “mavens” were paying attention. When you lack name recognition, you need to do this to define yourself – and even when you have name recognition, it’s not a bad idea.

Everyone knew about the common sense revolution before the 1995 Ontario election. In 2005, Stephen Harper released his platform before Christmas, while the Liberals were off caroling. In the current Toronto election, Rob Ford defined himself early on by repeating the words “gravy train” twenty times a day.

Even if the general public isn’t paying attention, it’s important to define yourself early, so that when they do tune in, they know what you’re all about.


5. Front runners cannot afford to be complacent. We’ve seen this happen time and time again – in leadership races and general elections. This race had two complacent front runners, trying to out complacency each other. So the electorate found someone else to vote for.

6. Religion doesn’t matter in Canada: Did you know Nenshi was Muslim? You probably didn’t until today. It wasn’t an issue.

7. Political affiliation doesn’t matter municipally: As the saying goes, snow removal isn’t a right wing or left wing issue. After 20 years of openly Liberal mayors, Calgarians picked the progressive option over the conservative or the Rod Love approved candidate.

8. Be Yourself: Naheed’s a geeky policy wonk. He didn’t pretend to be anything else.

9. Present a positive vision, but attack when necessary. Nenshi released scathing editorials on his opponents throughout the campaign, but he always attacked them on policy by explaining why their ideas were wrong…and followed it up with what he’d do better. It’s a simple way to construct an attack, and it’s almost always the most effective.

Unless, of course, your opponent kicks children in the face. Then you can have at them!

What others are saying…
DJ Kelly looks at the new City Council
The Commons recaps the day that was
Don Martin on Cowtown’s new image
Kevin Libin on how Nenshi won
Labrador shows us the electoral map – Nenshi cleans up downtown and did quite well in the west and north

Calgary Votes Live Blog

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics | Leave a comment

10:35 pm: We’re ready to call it. Calgary’s next mayor:

Yes, that’s right. Canada’s conservative heartland just elected a mayor who is a visible minority, practicing muslim, Harvard graduate, university professor, and a policy wonk. And he wears purple.

Nenshi’s rise is truly astonishing when you consider that he was polling in single digits, 35 points back of first, just four weeks ago. Sure, he had a bunch of Twitter followers and had released more policy than anyone else in the race, but the election was all about McIver versus Higgins. The problem was, neither McIver nor Higgins were saying much of anything.

So, poll after poll, Nenshi kept rising. He kept offering solutions to the problems facing the city, while McIver and Higgins argued over the proper amount to increase property taxes by. In the end, Calgary voters showed they weren’t hung up on image, on name recognition, or on political affiliation. They voted for the best candidate, and the best candidate won.

This was a good day for democracy.

10:03 pm: Bad sign for Ric McIver. The volunteer they send out to speak on his behalf calls him “MacGyver”. At this point, it may take MacGyver to get Ric out of the mess he’s in, because Nenshi keeps pulling away.

9:59 pm: In the more interesting race, for last:

Oscar Fech 25
Gary F. Johnson 30
Amanda Liu 32

And Wayne Stewart (380) leads among the candidates who aren’t actually in the race any more…

9:58 pm: The Nenshi HQ numbers have him up around 13,000 to 9,000 (McIver) to 8,000 (Higgins) based on their scrutineer numbers.

9:48 pm: Well that didn’t take long. Higgins falls down to third as McIver’s home ward (12) and downtown north (ward 7) come in.

Nenshi 7681
McIver 7513
Higgins 6239

9:39 pm: The results to date –

Higgins 3860
McIver 3661
Nenshi 3267

But the far south wards (McIver country) and the city centre/NE/campus wards (Nenshi country) are still to come. I still think Higgins might wind up in third when all is said and done.

8:59 pm: …and CTV is going to “Dancing with the Stars”. Because, yeah, it’s been an exciting election and all but, at the end of the day, we all really want to know how Bristol Palin is doing.

8:49 pm: Steve Mandel projected to be re-elected as mayor of Edmonton.

8:46 pm: CTV shows us the race in Pincher Creek – Rob Buckner is wearing a ballcap in his official campaign picture. The Calgary Grit decision desk is going to call that race for Bucker right now, with 0% of polls reporting.

8:21 pm: We have results! The first poll is in…presumably from Barb Higgins’ street. Barb has 26 votes, giving her a 20 vote lead on Naheed.

8:09 pm: Darrel Janz is wearing a purple tie on the CTV broadcast. Is this a slight to his old co-host?

7:45 pm (mountain time!): I’m coming to you live from the Calgary ex-pat election night party in Toronto, surrounded by purple t-shirts, Barb Higgins haircuts, and Ric McIver action figures (pull the string and he says…nothing – just like Ric!).

I’ll be updating the results and adding commentary as it comes in, while dishing out the numbers on aldermanic races and maybe even some Edmonton results. Hell, you might even get some hockey scores and weather forecasts while I’m at it!

While you wait, you can read my profiles of the candidates (here, here, and here), my endorsement of Nenshi, and my consternation at how Rob Ford could be the next mayor of Toronto and Naheed Nenshi could be next mayor of Calgary.

Calgary Votes

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Calgary Municipal Politics | Leave a comment

Today, Calgarians cast their ballots for mayor. Well, some Calgarians will. The City has a well deserved reputation for being one of the most apathetic when it comes to democracy – one-third of Calgarians voted in 2007, one-fifth in 2004.

This time around, there are no execuses to stay home. Calgarians have close to a dozen legitimate candidates for mayor to choose from. And Oscar Fech! More importantly, there’s a real race for the top, with three very different frontrunners in a statistical dead heat for the top prize.

While I don’t have a vote, I actually like all three of the candidates at the top. Sure McIver is a Conservative, but he’s not a scary socon or a buffoon, and he certainly has the experience to make a good Mayor. Higgins brings an outsider’s perspective to the race and would be a great representative for Calgary. She’s well spoken, affable, and likable. Had she committed herself to running for mayor earlier and developed a coherent vision for the city, there’s little doubt she would have won.

Then there’s Naheed. I won’t call this an endorsement, because candidates I endorse usually don’t do very well, but if I were living in Calgary today, he’d have my vote.

Quite simply, a win for Nenshi would be a win for substance over style. Naheed has run an issues-based campaign from the start, releasing his “better ideas” throughout the summer. The man has been writing about how to make Calgary a better city for years and he may finally get a chance to do that. He understands city council and city planning better than most of the current councilors, yet at the same time he’d be coming in as an outsider, ready and willing to shake things up and break Calgary free of the NIMBY mindset that has plagued City Hall for years.

Back in August, when I profiled the candidates, here’s what I wrote about Naheed:

Naheed is brilliant and has, hands down, the best ideas of any candidate on how to run Calgary. So, of course, he will not win.

So come on Calgary – prove me wrong!

Voting Information – Hours, where to vote, etc…

Previous Calgary Votes Coverage

-Candidate Profiles: McIver, Higgins, Nenshi

Nenshi, Lord, Burrows, and Connelly Calgary Grit survey responses

What’s the matter with Calgary

NOTE: I’ll be live blogging the results tonight once the polls close, so be sure to tune in.

What’s the matter with the Calgary Sun?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Sun endorses a Harvard elitist for Mayor of Calgary:

The Sun has never shied away from taking a bold stand when we believe it will benefit Calgarians.

We believe Naheed Nenshi should be Calgary’s next mayor.

Luckily, they explain their decision:

He’s a prof at Mount Royal University, but doesn’t engage in the egghead bafflegab we’ve come to expect from some academics.

On Thursday, I warned Calgarians their city was going soft. I won’t issue the Sun a similar warning, but endorsing professors in political races is the first step on a slippery slope…if they’re not careful, the sunshine girl may soon be replaced with a page of book reviews or some other elitist nonsense.

Stampede to the Polls: The Candidates Speak

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics, Interviews | Leave a comment

UPDATE Joe Connelly and Naheed Nenshi have been added at the bottom


Even though I only had time to profile four of the candidates running for mayor in Calgary (McIver, Higgins, Nenshi, and the since withdrawn Kent Hehr), I don’t want to completely overlook the other candidates. Some of these men and women have good ideas and they deserve a chance to be heard.

So, in the interest of giving everyone a voice, I sent around a short 3 question survey to every candidate I could find an e-mail address for. I got 2 bites, which I’ll repost here verbatim:


John Lord

1. What is your number 1 priority as Mayor of Calgary?

Without Financial resources, the City has their hands tied on everything else. Clean up the financials 1st and foremost – stop wasteful spending, take stock, then get on with fixing the problems and finding the opportunities for Calgarians. Triple E City Hall – Efficient ( doing things right) Effective ( doing the right things) and Ethical ( for the right reasons). Of any Candidate, I have the best Financial credentials ( know what questions to ask) Entrepreneurial outlook ( turning lemons to lemonade -vision and troubleshooting skills), Political relations( good relations with the City as former Alderman, good relations with Province as former MLA) and Track Record of actual achievements that have transformed communities ( Marda Loop), accomplished what others could not ( Legalize secondary suites, solve 30 years battle over Stampede Park expansion, etc.) and transformed the culture at City Hall ( World Environmental Achievement Award for Calgary, of which my ISO14001 initiative was instrumental).

2. What is one smaller concrete change you would make as Mayor that Calgarians would notice in their day to day lives?

A kinder, gentler Parking Authority – or maybe more better snow removal.

3. I doubt you’ve had much time to relax during this campaign, but if you had the chance to take 1 restful politics-free day, how would you spend it?

Catching up with my family – have a BBQ or something.


Craig Burrows (since withdrawn)

1. What is your number 1 priority as Mayor of Calgary?
Transparency, accessibility and accountability at City Hall. See my policy attached.

2. What is one smaller concrete change you would make as mayor that Calgarians would notice in their day to day lives?

Smartcard technology to eliminate the $3 park n ride fee.

3. I doubt you’ve had much time to relax during this campaign, but if you had the chance to take 1 restful politics-free day, how would you spend it?

I would spend the day with my wife and my dog, Max, and then later take my wife to dinner and a movie, I owe her many such days and nights!


Joe Connelly

1. What is your number 1 priority as Mayor of Calgary?

To give all Calgarians a true voice at City Hall. I don’t believe Calgarians are heard. I would introduce a crowdsourcing process to have groups address issues that most affect them, discuss them openly, and provide solutions to City Hall. I believe Calgarians hold many answers to our challenges as a growing city.

2. What is one smaller concrete change you would make as Mayor that Calgarians would notice in their day to day lives?

Introduce a Community Liaison position such that communities have a direct ear to the Mayor. I believe communities are the backbone of neighborhoods and represent issues on behalf of their neighbours. But City Hall has never set a process in place that these issues can be heard by Council and particularly by the Mayor. By starting at these grass roots level discussions, I believe it will make a difference in people’s lives.

3. I doubt you’ve had much time to relax during this campaign, but if you had the chance to take 1 restful politics-free day, how would you spend it?

Rollerblading on our great pathway systems. And later when the snow flies and the campaign is over, skiing.


Naheed Nenshi

1. What is your number 1 priority as Mayor of Calgary?
a. Get work started on the Airport/96th Ave underpass (aka tunnel) as quickly as possible to provide vital East-West link to keep airport access and so we don’t lose the opportunity now to establish the foundation for LRT to airport in the future. While this may not be the overall #1 priority, it is most time-sensitive one and we will miss the opportunity to build it if we don’t start now.

b. Fix City Hall. We need a major structural shift at City Hall – we must shift the culture from one of regulator to that of facilitator. It will take time, it will be difficult, but we must start this immediately to get Calgary on track for the future.

2.What is one smaller concrete change you would make as Mayor that Calgarians would notice in their day to day lives?

I would get the express bus system to post secondary schools and major employment areas as quickly as possible – getting more people to school and places of employment faster to make Public Transit more a preferred choice is a big priority that will help many Calgarians.

3. I doubt you’ve had much time to relax during this campaign, but if you had the chance to take 1 restful politics-free day, how would you spend it?

I’d start by sleeping in, having a great brunch and then spending some time with family and friends and then head out the theatre to see a performance.

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