Thursday, October 21, 2010

Margaret Wente on Calgary's Mayoral Election

To be honest, I never expected to see Naheed Nenshi's name plastered all over media across Canada and around the world.

However, in today's Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente's column is particularly amusing as she contrasts Calgary's recent election with Toronto's mayoral race.

Torontonians have a bad case of election deficit disorder, and no wonder. We’re having temper tantrums as we try to figure out who’s the least worst choice to be mayor. Is it Rob Ford, the charmless blockhead whose single idea is to cut every dollar of wasteful spending? Or is it Furious George Smitherman, who rammed through the worst energy policy that Ontario’s ever seen? It’s a tough call. Things are so bad, people are longing for the halcyon age of Mel Lastman.

Then she comes around to Naheed Nenshi's run in Calgary:

What’s great about Naheed Nenshi isn’t that he’s brown and Muslim – although he is a powerful symbol for a city that has become surprisingly diverse. What’s great is that he loves his city and has actual plans to make it better.

Which pretty much summarizes why I voted for Nenshi. After the last nine years of "Build Another Road Bronconnier" and one of the most divided, dysfunctional councils I have ever seen, I wanted someone with a vision and some ideas about how to realize that vision. Nenshi provided both - in spades.

Torontonians have always thought of Calgary as a hick town, full of rednecks in cowboy hats and oil guys chowing down on range-fed beef at the Petroleum Club. Their idea of “change” was to elect Ralph Klein. Their idea of “the arts” was horse paintings and their idea of “diversity” was a spaghetti restaurant. We were supposed to be the progressive, diverse, cosmopolitan city that the whole world held up as a model for the future. But now we’re likely to get a mayor who’ll make Ralph Klein look like a world-class sophisticate.

Ouch! Nice shot, Ms. Wente - perhaps after breaking the mold and electing Nenshi, maybe Calgarians will consider voting for something other than "the same old, same old" in other elections? One can only hope.

Starting on Monday, the hard work begins. Naheed Nenshi has put forth a bold vision for Calgary, and I suspect it will be a long time to make it all happen. However, if he can start laying the groundwork over the course of 2011 (after cleaning up the dreadful state of Calgary's budget - which the previous council left in a complete mess), he'll have done well. I wish him luck.

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