Calgary's new mayor, Naheed Nenshi

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Having been away from Canada for far too long, I didn't find out until yesterday that my hometown of Calgary actually had quite an interesting mayoral election, and a candidate named Naheed Nenshi who started out at about 8% ended up on election night with 40%, upsetting the candidate that many had assumed would win since 2007 or so, a guy named Ric McIver that even had some backing from the Prime Minister and his team. One article about the election is here. Some seem surprised that Calgary would elect a visible minority and Muslim as its mayor; as a native Calgarian I'm not, and the city's reputation as a hick town is unfounded.

Apparently Nenshi is a bit of a policy wonk and had the most detailed platform of the candidates, and also has a page here with some info in a number of other languages - brochures in Chinese, Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, French, Persian, and a video translated into French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Let's go with French:

Since he seems to be really big on infrastructure including a tunnel to the airport (pdf map of the tunnel here), maybe I'll look around and see if he has an opinion on what I'd like to see most - a direct link from Seoul to Calgary not just during the summer months. That would have been nice when bringing my cat to Calgary a few months back. Yes, I know it's not the most important issue.

He has a podcast here as well which goes into some detail on eight subjects he often brings up. Now it's time to pay attention to municipal politics for the first time in about a decade to see what changes this new mayor will bring about.

Edit: I came across two articles today about Nenshi's election victory that are all worth reading. First is this one about why Obama comparisons should be avoided, most importantly because it often carries with it expectations of a kind of savior-like figure that will just up and solve all the previous problems with but a wave of the hand, and thus disappointment afterwards when supporters realize that their favourite new political figure is a man like any other. The other is this article about whether he can really remake Calgary's undeserved redneck image considering how the previous two mayors (which brings us back to 1989) were 1) Dave Bronconnier who ran for the federal Liberals before, and 2) the soft-spoken Al Duerr who has a Chinese wife and speaks a fair amount of Chinese (Putonghwa) himself. So the city really hasn't had a single mayor in its recent history that could ever be described as a redneck.

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