Naheed Nenshi

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I only had time to profile four of the candidates running for mayor in Calgary (McIver, Higgins, Nenshi, and the since withdrawn Kent Hehr), I don’t want to completely overlook the other candidates.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Craig Burrows (since withdrawn)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.

What’s the matter with Calgary?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2010 Calgary Municipal Election, 2010 Toronto Muncipal Election, Calgary Municipal Politics, Featured Posts, Humour, Toronto Municipal Politics | Leave a comment

Dear Calgary,

You used to be cool. You were the conservative rebel without a cause. You welcomed George Bush and Sarah Palin with open arms. You could always be counted on for a good pro-Iraq war rally. Ann Coulter called you “the good Canadians”.

The man who embodied this Calgary image was Ralph Klein. He was your mayor in the 80s. By voting for Ralph in 1993, you saved Alberta from a Liberal government. You stood by your man even after the drunken visits to homeless shelters, after the plagiarism, after he heckled the AISH recipients. The rest of the country laughed at Ralph, but you didn’t care. Because, like Ralph, you were too cool to care.

This all led to a good natured rivalry with Toronto. In 2004, Scott Reid famously said “Alberta can blow me” during the election campaign. A decade earlier, you’d pasted “Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark” bumper stickers on your trucks. That was just the sort of relationship Calgary and Toronto have always had.

And you know what? The relationship worked. Calgarians hated the Toronto elites for their self-righteousness and their blind devotion to the Liberal Party, while the self righteous Toronto elites shook their heads and wondered what was wrong with those backwater Calgarians who would elect a donkey if you slapped a Tory logo on its behind.

But now, everything has gone topsy turvy. Here’s the Leger mayoral poll from yesterday’s Calgary Herald:

Nenshi has now rocketed to 30 per cent, tied with Higgins and just behind Ric McIver’s 33 per cent support, according to a Leger Marketing survey of 500 Calgarians conducted between Oct. 6 and 11.

Holy chinook?!? The “it” candidate in the Calgary election went to Harvard, ran a nonprofit, and blogs about the best ways to limit urban sprawl. Rosedale parents are going to have a hard time using that to turn their children against Calgary and scare them into voting Liberal.

Especially given what’s been going on in Toronto, where the front runner wants to limit immigration, says “oriental people work like dogs“, and has a record of DUI and assault charges so long it would make Ralph Klein blush.

I mean, seriously. Take a look at these two pictures and tell me which one of these guys looks like he should be mayor of Toronto and which one looks like he should be mayor of Calgary:

And it’s not just Naheed. The “conservative” candidate in Calgary’s mayoral election, Ric McIver, has staked out the conservative turf by…promising to raise taxes less than the other candidates. Hell, he’s been attacked by the NDP candidate in the race for wanting to spend too much on the airport tunnel. The guy isn’t exactly the president of Tea Party North.

The other front runner, Barb Higgins, is assumed to be progressive but, in fairness to her, that’s only because no one really knows what she stands for.

So Calgary, I’m writing you this letter as a friend. I feel someone has to let you know you’ve gone soft. Hell, you elected 5 Liberal MLAs in the last provincial election, more than “Redmonton”. Here’s an e-mail I got from a friend of mine in Calgary yesterday:

I for one, being a proud Western Canadian, welcome 4 years of insanity to the city of Toronto. I have always maintained that the real crazies in Canada live or reside in the city of Toronto, Mel Lastman proved that and may Mayor Ford continue that proud tradition.

All I know is that wack jobs like Lastman, Miller and Ford would never see the light of day in a sophisticated Canadian locale like Calgary, Alberta.

Is this how you want to be described Calgary? As “sophisticated“?

So I am begging you. To stop this insanity and preserve your reputation as Canada’s conservative bad boy, I am urging a massive “Rob Anders write in” campaign for mayor. You need to make this happen, simply to keep the natural order of the universe in balance.

Or else next thing you know they’ll be holding Pierre Trudeau parades down 17th Avenue and Stanley Cup parades down Yonge Street.

Right Turn

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

Polls out today show fiscal conservatives ahead in Calgary and Toronto.

Calgary (Leger, n=500 phone)

Ric McIver 43% (profile)
Barb Higgins 28%
Naheed Nenshi 8% (profile)
Kent Hehr 4.1% (profile)
Bob Hawkesworth 3.9%
Craig Burrows 3.6%
Joe Connely 2.9%
Wayne Stewart 1.8%
Alnoor Kassam 1.4%
Oscar Fech 1.2%
Bonnie Devine 0.8%
Paul Hughes 0.8%
John Lord 0.4%

Kassam and Hughes are actually out of the race. Likely a wise move, because if you’re tied with Oscar Fech, it’s time to go (Oscar’s platform usually involves digging up gold buried under City Hall).

The results from this poll are hardly earth shattering. McIver has been the front runner for the past 5 years and Higgins is still finding her feet in this race. However, the news isn’t all bad for her – 15 points can be made up in month municipally, and she is clearly positioned as the “anybody but McIver” candidate. Nenshi is still far back, but can at least spin this as a sign he’s pulling away from the pack. For the rest of the field, there’s little joy in mudville.

Toronto (Nanos, n = 1221 phone)

Ford 45.8%
Smitherman 21.3%
Pantalone 16.8%
Rossi 9.7%
Thompson 6.4%

This poll will come as more of a shock for anyone living outside of Toronto. Yes, those “Liberal elites” John Baird rails against are lining up behind a man who could become Canada’s first Tea Party mayor.

For those in Toronto, it’s not as big a shock. Ford has become the torch bearer for every suburban voter fed up with waste at City Hall and has forged a Ralph Klein common man connection to voters, to the point where voters will forgive his many deficiencies.

Luckily, as is the case in Calgary, there’s still a lot of baseball to be played and many voters are just now tuning in this episode already in progress. Right now, the “Stop Ford” vote is being split – by Election Day it will congeal, presumably around Smitherman.

Still, the early returns are strikingly similar in both Calgary in Toronto – in both cities, voters have clicked their right turn signal, looking to the candidate who talks the loudest about cleaning up waste at City Hall.

Stampede to the Polls: Naheed Nenshi

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


Previous Profiles:
Ric McIver
Kent Hehr

In the third instalment of my 484 part series profiling Calgary mayoral candidates, I look at a man who has been writing about how Calgary should be run for many years. And he’s finally decided to do something about it.

Naheed Nenshi


About Naheed: Naheed is a professor, a Harvard graduate, and a writer. Elitist.

He’s best known for his work with the Better Calgary Campaign and his op-eds about how the City of Calgary should be run.

Website
(Appearance: 3/10, Functionality 8/10, Content 8/10, Uniqueness 6/10, Overall 7/10)

Although I wonder how many grimaces had to die to get enough purple for the website, it remains a solid campaign site, rich in content and policy. Of particular interest are the 8 “better Calgary” ideas – each one easily explained in a line then elaborated on in pdf and podcast formats.

While the site has everything you’d expect from a political website, it doesn’t have the polished look or feel of most campaign sites. Rather than being greeted by a picture of the candidate and the Calgary skyline, you get a slogan and homemade Youtube video on the welcome page. And, you know what, that’s fine by me. Nenshi doesn’t look or sound like a polished politician and he’s not trying to be one – why should his website?

Social Media

Ahh…if only elections were held on Twitter, Nenshi would soon adding mayoral hashtags to his name.

Twitter: 1,549 followers and over 3,000 tweets.
Facebook: 2,053 fans
Youtube: Around 7,500 views of his home page video
Blog: A campaign blog that includes attacks on the front runners.
He also has an iPhone ap (pictured to the right) for those times when hourly Twitter updates won’t provide you with the Naheed fix you need

My Take: 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.

That said, Naheed has done everything an outsider with low name recognition can do to break free of the pack. He’s released ideas, he’s gone hard at social media, he’s gotten his name into as many news articles as possible.

Even though a lot of the candidates for mayor aren’t doing much more than taking up space, having a policy wizzard like Naheed out there talking about ideas is good for this mayoral race and it’s good for Calgary.

Let’s Get Municipal

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

Calgary: Calgary is still buzzing over Barb Higgins’ entry into the Mayoral race, and there are reports she has hired Liberal strategist Don Lovett as her campaign manager.

On the policy side, frontrunner Ric McIver has released his vision for Calgary, and Higgins has responded with her “policy framework“. Both are bland, unoriginal, and short on specifics (the platforms, not the candidates, both of whom I find intriguing). Fellow candidate Naheed Nenshi offers a strong critique of these policy “announcements” on his site.

The airport tunnel is emerging as a big issue. True to the bizarre nature of Calgary politics, the right wing candidate wants to spend and the NDP proxy in this race thinks it’s a waste of money. Go figure.

Toronto: With John Tory out of the race, it’s now very much a Smitherman versus Ford affair.

And the Smitherman campaign is starting to turn up the heat, launching an attack “FordonFord” website.

Edmonton: Edmonton Politics is the must see source for this one. Also, Alex Abboud runs down the hotly contested ward races.

Montreal: Speculation is now rampant about the next mayoral election…in 2013. Good grief, we’ll probably have 2 or 3 federal elections before then.

Regardless, the latest rumour has Denis Coderre making the jump to municipal politics. My anonymous Liberal sources have also confided to me that Martin Cauchon is now considering a run for Montreal mayor in 2013.

Dauphin: Tory MLA Inky Marr is running for mayor. Which means, in Inky’s opinion, being a backbencher in Stephen Harper’s caucus is a less glamourous position than being mayor of a town of 8,000 people.

This Week in Calgary – Wild Race in Cowtown!

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

Ever since a down-to-earth reporter stunned everyone 30 years ago, Calgary’s incumbent mayors have enjoyed cake walk after cake walk to re-election. They do their 3 or 4 terms, then ride off on horseback into the sunset, setting off a feeding frenzy to replace them.

So welcome to the feeding frenzy.

Dave Bronconnier announced in February that he wouldn’t be seeking a fourth term, setting off wildfire speculation. Here’s a rundown of some of the names being bandied about to replace him. I’m probably overlooking some, so be sure to add any others in the comments section.

Ric McIver (all but declared): McIver is my former alderman and the horse I’d put money on in this race – he’s been organizing and fundraising for a long time, and can always get a good quote in the media. He’s the torch bearer for the right wing in this race which, oddly enough, may work against him – despite the city’s reputation, Calgary’s last two mayors have been openly Liberal.

Kent Hehr (expected to run): Kent won back Calgary Buffalo for the Alberta Liberals last provincial election. Hehr, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot as a bystander in 1991, would make a very compelling foil to McIver should he decide to enter the race.

Naheed Nenshi (considering a run): Naheed is the head of the Better Calgary Coalition – should he run, I fully expect Naheed to be the anti-politician of the race, focusing on policy and taking on the NIMBY groups. It’s hard to say how successful a campaign like that would be, but his candidacy would certainly bring a lot to the race.

Alnoor Kassam (thinking it over): This was my guy in 2007, when he took on Dave. Alnoor starts the campaign with more name recognition than most thanks to the green stop signs, but the barrage of negative media he was hit with in 2007 means he’ll need to rebuild his image if he wants to run again.

Joe Connelly (declared): Connelly pulled off the upset in Ward 6 last election and has declared early, in a bid to generate some Joementum. His website is up, and features a buzzword bonanza, including promises such as “Delivery of services through transparent leadership conducting real consultation, followed by strategically planning and executing with precision.”

Jon Lord (declared): This former Tory MLA is most famous for citing his membership in MENSA on a campaign brochure. His website projects his campaign as being a tad amateur and a tad verbose (Did you know Jon developed “the ISO 9000, the world’s best efficiency and effectiveness business process re-engineering methodology”? Me neither.). But Lord gets major marks from me for mentioning “The Borg” in his principles section.

John Hughes (declared): Described as “an urban chicken activist“. This tells you all you need to know about his candidacy.

Wayne Stewart (gauging support): A retied oil executive and former head of a local homeless foundation could appeal across the political spectrum.

Also Rumoured: Former Alderman Craig Burrows, the ageless Bob Hawkesworth, Diane Colley-Urquhart (who finished third in the Glenmore by election, running for the PCs), former alderman Brian Lee, Dave Taylor (who has denied interest, saying he’s too old), Alberta’s representative in DC Gary Mar, former solicitor general Harvey Cenaiko, Frank McKenna, Paul Hellyer, The professor and Mary Ann.

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