By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 0 Comments
Last night’s Calgary Centre by-election, won by media personality and former newspaper editor Joan Crockatt, was held in the most pro-Naheed Nenshi part of what is now a very pro-Nenshi city. Like Crockatt last night, Nenshi exploited a split opposition to win the Calgary mayoralty in 2010. But Calgary’s civic Ward 8, which makes up about two-thirds of the Calgary Centre riding, is a place where the mayor dominated all other contestants combined, taking 58% of the vote. The Green Party’s Chris Turner has close ties to Nenshi (though the mayor didn’t endorse anybody), and Turner was clearly hoping to capitalize on that success, employing Nenshi campaign staffers and Nenshian social-media tactics.
It earned him 26% of the vote. That’s still an amazing figure for a Green Party-labelled candidate in Calgary—especially an unknown one with essentially no pre-existing local political apparatus to exploit. From a standing start, Turner earned 20 votes for every three cast for the NDP’s Dan Meades.
The more meaningful pre-election data, however, may have come not from 2010 but from this year’s provincial election, in which Calgary Centre covers about the same area as three downtown constituencies: Calgary-Elbow, home base of both Ralph Klein and Alison Redford; Calgary-Buffalo, the city’s Liberal stronghold; and Calgary-Currie. The right-wing Wildrose Party got 12,694 votes there in April, and one would have to think that many of them were among the 10,201 who made it out to vote for Conservative Crockatt last night. (Her campaign was as Wildrose-heavy as Turner’s was Nenshi-heavy.) The Liberals had 8,449 provincial votes in the zone, and federal Liberal Harvey Locke got 9,034 last night.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:29 PM - 0 Comments
With the Calgary Centre by-election coming up Monday, the impact of Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty’s miserably maladroit “go back to Alberta” comment on his party’s chances there is the political question of the hour.
The Liberal candidate, Harvey Locke, has been running a strong campaign. But will Conservatives be able to use McGuinty’s choice of words to draw votes away from Locke and into the column of his Tory rival, Joan Crockatt?
Or is it more likely, as some are speculating, that any Calgary Centre voters thinking twice about supporting the Liberal will instead switch to Chris Turner, the Green candidate?
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
@Nenshi - Hope you give the Conservative Party credit tomorrow for giving cities stable, predictable funding through the $2 B gas tax!
.@Crockatteer or … You could come and tell people yourself! Invitation open. When did it become my role to do the candidate’s job for her?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:56 AM - 0 Comments
The mayor’s office is helping to organize the Cities Matter Calgary Centre forum at the central public library on Sunday. Nenshi said Crockatt is the one candidate who hasn’t confirmed her attendance. “I can’t imagine why she would want to miss this opportunity to discuss the government’s commitment to Calgary,” said Nenshi, who doesn’t align himself with any political party.
In an interview, Crockatt said she will attend a different community forum on Saturday, but it will be difficult to participate in the Sunday debate because her schedule is jam-packed. Her campaign has focused on meeting voters one on one — she has been door-knocking since the summer. But she noted the riding covers City Hall and other important Calgary organizations. Her team is trying to reorganize her schedule so she can attend, but Crockatt said she only received the invitation this week.
Here is Mayor Nenshi’s op-ed in its entirety.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Everything from its cost to its red-steel helix look has been mercilessly attacked
Few issues excite Calgarians like government spending. So when the city decided to spend millions on a pedestrian bridge, it was no surprise many of them grew incensed. The Peace Bridge, which spans the Bow River, has been much delayed and oft maligned. The controversial bridge is finally scheduled to open next month. Everything from its cost—at least $24.5 million—to its red-steel helix look has been attacked without mercy.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was hired to design the bridge in 2008, in a process that drew heavy fire: there was no design competition and no tender. He was the only candidate. One local writer called the process a “backdoor deal,” a “ bad joke,” and “an ego project”—all in one column. Other wags, meanwhile, have attacked it as a product of shady dealings in former mayor Dave Bronconnier’s City Hall.
Flaws in the welded steel produced in Spain, among other delays, kept pushing the end date back. The final product looks like little else in Calgary, a city not known for arresting architecture. The covered dome snakes over the river without supports. Its bright red hues stand out against the muted, Prairie landscape.
The city is planning an opening celebration. But the mayor, for one, doesn’t seem entirely anxious to be there. “If he’s available,” Naheed Nenshi will attend, said a spokesperson.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 14 Comments
Andrew Potter defends the existence of political parties.
Nenshi also pointedly refused to affiliate himself with any particular party. He re-emphasized that line while giving a speech in Toronto last week, saying in the Q&A after the talk that the absence of parties is the one thing he likes best about city politics. Parties, he said, are of interest to academics, to the media, and to politicians themselves, but to the average citizen they are useless.
Like almost all popularly held views, the only problem with this is that it’s wrong, and based on a serious misunderstanding of what parties are for. Most people think that parties are supposed to advance a specific ideology, like left-wing egalitarianism or social conservatism. Some parties do this, but that is mostly just a side-effect of their primary role, which is to translate popular support into political power. They do this by delivering a cohesive and disciplined block of support sufficient to sustain a government for an extended period of time.
See previously: In defence of partisanship
By Nancy MacDonald, Alex Ballingall, Emma Teitel and Cigdem Iltan - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 8:50 AM - 0 Comments
Prince Harry has a new gal, Thailand elects a woman, and at least one Canadian mayor will march at Pride
They love you, you big hairy ape
A French couple has spent the last 13 years raising a 120-kg gorilla in their home. Zookeepers Pierre and Elianne Thivillon adopted Digit after her mother refused to breastfeed her. Digit spends her days with other animals at the Saint Martin la Plaine Zoo near Lyon, but returns to her adoptive home at night where she sleeps in the Thivillon bed, according to a new BBC documentary. Digit’s brother Ginko used to live there too, but had to return to the zoo after becoming too aggressive. Life with Digit, however, is much more pleasant: she is reportedly gentle with the couple, and has been photographed hugging and kissing them. “We have a very strong bond,” Pierre told Sky News.
Meaghan Blanchard blew every rule of etiquette at once when she seemed to combine “duke” and “duchess” and accidentally called Prince William a “douche,” moments before performing for William and his new wife Kate in Charlottetown. “I can’t believe that just happened,” the red-faced, 22-year-old singer exclaimed. But the royal couple saw the funny side of the gaffe, sharing a hearty laugh, and Blanchard recovered quickly, delivering a flawless performance of the self-penned Waltzing With You. “I felt awful,” Blanchard later said, “but sometimes that’s just life, you gotta roll with the punches.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM - 3 Comments
Eight months after election, Naheed Nenshi fulfills campaign promise
Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi has fulfilled his campaign promise to post office expenses on his website. The expenses list, highlighted in Scribd documents on his blog, comes eight months after the mayor was elected. The majority of his office’s $563,511 expenses between January 1 and May 31 were for staff salaries and wages. His office expenses came in under budget for the time period.
By Anthony Davis - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
The Awesome Calgary Foundation is bring great ideas to life
Calgary’s Higher Ground Café was especially busy one Thursday evening last month, but it wasn’t caffeine alone that had the crowd buzzing. Ideas were brewing too—one of which earned its originator $1,000 from the recently founded Awesome Calgary Foundation.
A small group of trustees—brought together by former eBay executive Lori Stewart—put up $100 a month each to fund the no-strings-attached grants. Among the four people who got 90 seconds to pitch their “awesome idea” on this night was a comedian in search of funding for his documentary, and an inventor seeking cash to build “Second Wind,” a device that could extend the usable time for the breathing apparatuses used by firefighters. But the winner of the ACF’s second event was Kiran Somanchi. The 27-year-old fast-talking petroleum engineer’s idea—“a mix of decentralized dance party, flash mob, vote mob”—is to use social media to amass a crowd of Calgarians in one location on Aug. 21, before sending them on an attention-grabbing march through Calgary’s more interesting neighbourhoods—all in the hope of spurring some civic pride.
Stewart, a technology business consultant, started Awesome Calgary because ever since moving there from Silicon Valley seven years ago, she’s found the city’s conservative, petroleum-oriented mindset stifling. “I felt like I’d been in a bad relationship with Calgary,” she says, “that I didn’t fit here.” But by working on Naheed Nenshi’s mayoral campaign last fall, she discovered others wanting something different for her city, too.
There are 89 chapters of the Awesome Foundation worldwide, including ones in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. “We just want to believe in people’s ideas,” says Stewart. And the power of belief, she’s sure, will turn ideas into action.
By Nicholas Kohler and Cathy Gulli - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
A tiny Wolfe at the bathroom door, a flirty old Castro in Cuba and the Times’ new editor needs her red pen
Happy birthday, Mr. President
Turning 80 usually warrants a birthday party. But Cuban President Raúl Castro was hardly celebrated at all. It seems his advanced age is an uncomfortable reminder to many Cubans that their country’s leaders are old—and old-guard. With no young successors in place (the next in line for the job are 79 and 80), Cubans worry that economic reforms now under way will be jeopardized if either Castro or his brother Fidel, 84, take ill. Still, Castro was positively spry on his birthday, asking female reporters: “How do I look, ladies, how do I look at 80? How many old men of 60 are there who aren’t in my shape?”
Three decades after losing her son Terry to cancer, Betty Fox is ﬁghting to stay alive. The Fox family, in the spotlight ever since Terry’s Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980, released a statement that the matriarch is “seriously ill,” but stressed she does not have cancer. Though details are scarce, she reportedly spent time at a hospice in Chilliwack, B.C. Her last major public appearance was carrying the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies in Vancouver last year.
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 3:26 PM - 7 Comments
Airports rank right up there with potholes and property taxes
When it comes to municipal headaches, airports rank right up there with potholes and property taxes. The complaints usually stem from expansion efforts, and the aircraft noise and car traffic that inevitably comes along with it. In Toronto, for example, waterfront condo owners are vowing to shut down five-year-old Porter Airlines, which has turned the once-sleepy island airport into a bustling regional hub.
In Calgary, the problem is road access. The local airport authority is building a new runway at Calgary International Airport that will require the closure of a key artery leading to the terminal from the city’s northeast. The solution that’s been on the books for years is to build a traffic underpass below the proposed runway, but it was only last month that city council, after much coaxing from new Mayor Naheed Nenshi, finally approved the controversial $295-million project. In general, opposition to the proposal has focused on cost and the fact the tunnel will serve a relatively small, albeit growing, part of the city.
Now the airlines are complaining. The tunnel is scheduled to open at the same time as the new runway in 2014, but WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky has said he’s concerned the underpass may raise unforeseen safety and security issues, bogging down the airport’s badly needed expansion, which WestJet is depending on to accommodate its own growth. While other airports have roadways that pass underneath runways and taxiways, most were built prior to 9/11. Saretsky has also cited potential safety risks, including the threat that planes landing in icy conditions will be in close proximity to traffic. It sounds alarmist, but airline spokesperson Robert Palmer said WestJet can’t afford any delays. The airport is operating at capacity and WestJet continues to grow, he said. “The runway is critical to both organizations.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 14, 2011 at 5:59 PM - 43 Comments
The Scene. The starry-eyed and shiny new mayor of Calgary—he who is presently hailed as a new kind of political ideal—uses a lovely phrase to describe what he is trying to do: Politics in full sentences. The sentiment contained therein—less a matter of grammar than tone and spirit—seems as much about what politics should be as what it presently is.
As it is, we speak mostly in slogans. The art of political messaging has been so finely tuned that debate is essentially an exchange of sentence fragments—aggrandizing nouns and accusatory adjectives. Sentences and paragraphs exist only to support memorable phrases. Indeed, in relaying the extent of most debates, we needn’t even bother reprinting full sentences. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 7:35 PM - 103 Comments
Some of you will be reading my column on the resignation of Ed Stelmach as Alberta premier as early as today; some of you will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, I’ll give you some principles you can use to filter the hypotheses of other observers.
First of all, don’t believe anyone who tells you that Alberta politics is governed by some mystical tidal pattern of stagnation punctuated by revolution. Anybody who’s been here for the past 20 or 30 years should have learned to tune out the “massive change is just around the corner!” refrain by now, if only because advancing age has made him half-deaf. Preston Manning alone has been guilty of a dozen or so end-times prophecies of this sort (though, in fairness, prophecy is sort of a family tradition with him). News flash: pretty much everybody who voted here in 1935 is underground, and not because a basement suite was all they could afford. The Alberta electorate of 2011 in no way resembles that even of 1981; not ethnically, not culturally, not spiritually, not ideologically.
And the political spectrum itself has changed. As much as there might be a casual longing for a revival of “Peter Lougheed Conservatism”, Lougheed’s style of state corporatism, which led to budget disaster in the 1980s after his suspiciously timely exit, would probably now put any candidate who embraced it on the left wing of the federal NDP. Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is some unexploited, powerful hidden welter of Red Toryism in Alberta, waiting to spew forth into an appropriate channel. Even the reds aren’t that Red anymore.
There is no particular reason for Alberta politics to seek the same equilibrium in which our federal government is trapped, so don’t believe anyone who argues for realignment as some kind of cosmic axiom. Yes, I’m looking at Jeffrey Simpson here. Simpson is described endearingly by his employer as “a regular visitor to Alberta”, which seems like a deliberate invitation to scorn, but the man obviously is well-informed about the place. His characterization of the Alberta Liberal Party can only have come from someone familiar with it.
Simpson, however, believes Alberta politics is reverting to a “normal” shape (one it has never had) because the province no longer has any reason for hostility and suspicion toward a federal government led by a Calgarian. (With the bonus, one presumes, of a chief justice from Pincher Creek.) I think our visitor underestimates the ease of Ottawa-bashing in a world where Alberta farmers can still be jailed for defying the Wheat Board; where Alberta still pays toll upon toll for its presence in Confederation, layering pension and employment-insurance outflows on top of explicit fiscal equalization; where, as finance minister Ted Morton recently pointed out, Albertans are being billed specifically for the provincial sales tax liabilities of Ontarians and British Columbians. Morton’s a smart guy! He can find reasons to be upset with Ottawa almost as fast as Ottawa can come up with ways to screw Alberta!
I would tell you not to believe anyone who sees no difference between Ted Morton and Danielle Smith, but then, you barely have any choice aside from me. My column anticipating a personal tilt between Morton and Smith in the Calgary exurbs has been superseded with embarrassing speed by events, but at least it was written by somebody who can distinguish between various species of “right-winger” if given a pair of field glasses and sent out into the bush. The Morton-Smith personal combat, which already started when Smith announced a candidacy smack-dab in the middle of Morton Country, is more than superficial. Morton, by trifling with property rights as resource minister, has attacked the very principles Smith built her career around. She is physically moving to the rural south because Morton painted a target on himself; his core organizers and financial backers are gone, many directly to her, and they are not coming back. The Globe‘s Josh Wingrove is all over this, and understands it better than most writers for Alberta organs do; he, at least, is no mere visitor.
But, really, is there any realistic doubt that Morton and Smith could stage a pretty interesting political battle? Forget even the intriguing stylistic contrast: one of them has been a rights advocate for her entire career and the other is the country’s leading intellectual opponent of liberal “rights” rhetoric. One of them is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage; the other made his reputation blowing raspberries at the Morgentaler and Vriend decisions. It’s literally not possible that any reasonable person could be equally comfortable with either of the two as premier.
Other myths to be wary of? Don’t believe anybody who talks up the Alberta Party, at least until it has a leader, some policies, and a history of contesting elections. The idea that an Alberta political movement can go from zero to government in 6.8 seconds, just because Social Credit did it 76 years ago, is just a variant of the “every X years Y happens” myth. (Hasn’t anybody in this province read The Poverty of Historicism?) Don’t believe anything you are told about low Alberta voter turnout unless the province’s young-skewing demographics are factored in; young people don’t vote anywhere in the Western world, and we have more of them than you do.
And don’t put too much stock in the election of Naheed Nenshi as mayor of Calgary. What he accomplished was remarkable, but it also required less than 40% of the vote in a race where the establishment favourite, Barb Higgins, turned out to have a bad case of China Syndrome. The people who got giddy over big bad Calgary electing a relatively liberal mayor apparently haven’t heard that the last time Calgary elected a non-Liberal was 1977.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Maybe it’s the red hair, but actress Emma Stone, who got rave reviews for her performance in this year’s edgy teen comedy Easy A, has been called the new Lindsay Lohan—minus the antics. Stone, who also appeared in Zombieland and Superbad, recently landed the female lead in an upcoming Spider-Man prequel: she’ll play Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest. Unlike her best-known characters, all redheads, Stacy’s a blond—coincidentally, Stone’s natural shade (turns out that her famously red hair is a dye job).
THE DOUBLE DOWN
Amid both celebration and horror, KFC launched its Double Down—bacon, melted cheese and Colonel’s Sauce, sandwiched between pieces of chicken—across the U.S. and Canada. Named after a blackjack move, this bunless wonder represents something of a gamble for even the most devoted fast-food fan. Even so, the phrase “heart attack on a bun” suddenly seemed outdated thanks to the Double Down’s limited, four-week Canadian run.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Calgary put on a new face this week
The city elected Naheed Nenshi, a visible-minority Muslim academic, as its new mayor. Elsewhere in the country, Nenshi’s victory has been greeted with a combination of puzzlement and surprise. Not so in town. Calgary has always seen itself as a young, cosmopolitan, confident city attractive to migrants and eager entrepreneurs. And by this standard, Nenshi is just a typical Calgarian who proved smart enough to get himself elected mayor.
Nenshi was a relative unknown when he entered the race to replace long-time mayor David Bronconnier. His profile was largely limited to his work in the volunteer sector and arts community and a regular column he wrote in the Calgary Herald. But his strongest assets proved to be those same attributes that define Calgary: youth, work ethic, intelligence, business acumen and a passion for making life better.
The son of immigrants, Nenshi moved to Calgary when he was one. As an outstanding student he earned a scholarship to Harvard following an undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary. He returned home in 2001 after working for the prestigious McKinsey & Company. Currently he runs his own consultancy and teaches non-profit management at the Bissett School of Business in Calgary. The 38-year old is a bachelor who looks after his elderly parents at home.