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What Nenshi promised Calgary? The new centrist message

October 22nd, 2010 · 8 Comments

An object lesson for the 2011 election here in Vancouver (and elsewhere) is what Naheed Nenshi promised Calgary voters that swept them off their feet:

Fiscal responsibility, a good business climate, and safety, plus bike lanes, transit, basement suites, sustainability, walkability, culture, libraries, and more. You can check it out here.

That’s actually what everyone seems to be promising these days. So how do political parties or mayoral candidates differentiate themselves? The NPA’s dilemma in Vancouver, the left’s dilemma in Surrey, and so on.

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  • Agustin

    In terms of policy, political candidates/parties should differentiate themselves if they have different ideas or implementation methods than the other guy. If not, it’s just differentiation for the sake of differentiation.

  • MB

    Nenshi had an advantage over Vancouver’s at-large system — he wasn’t running as part of a political party.

    In Calgary they elect “independent” alderwo/men via wards, and a mayor by name. Therein he didn’t have to develop policy through the painful political committee process rife with confused ideals and huge egos.

    As the result, Nenshi developed a surprisingly clear message with well-articulated ideas about relevant issues on a minimal budget. Essentially, he outcompeted the old white bread politicians and a slick media maven on ideas expressed casually but effectively through You Tube (with downloadable policy docs), not on how much donated campaign money was spent on empty TV ads.

    Youth gathered around him in droves not just because he was proficient in social media, but because his message about sustainability etc etc etc was just what young voters were waiting for, presumably because they can relate better to change, and what they didn’t find emanting from the stuffy mansions of the old guard.

    Nenshi also was known as a regular independent columnist with the Calgary Herald … again, espousing intelligent critiques of city policy and issues, not the least on subdivision developers having certain city council members in their pockets to such as extent major planning initiatives got radically changed in their favour after the public consultation ended.

    Nenshi … that name will be remembered, especially if he is able to accomplish a good chunk of his stated Better Ideas.

    This is very refreshing.

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    Ummm… and dollars, right? Alberta has “ethical oil”. It may take a few election cycles, but municipal leaders will differentiate themselves by results.

    “…Fiscal responsibility, a good business climate, and safety, plus bike lanes, transit, basement suites, sustainability, walkability, culture, libraries, and more.”

    All that stuff, Frances, has to come together on the ground and work.

  • Fred

    And now all he has to do is deliver on his middle of the road vagueness.

    Should be fun to see how he makes tough decisions.

    Unlike Obama, he can’t just vote “present” hundreds of times.

  • Bill McCreery

    Nenshi may have been elected Mayor but, are the Councillors on the same page? One of the advantages, among disadvantages as well, of our @ large /party system in Van is that they typically are, so things can get done.

    Agree with Lewis & Fred &, it could be a Vancouver platform. Nice generalizations but, having spent 8 years in Calgary in the 80’s, I’d rather try to create walkable neighborhoods in Van than Calgary. But, they have to start & I wish him / them well.

  • MB

    Those of us who know Calgary see this idea

    as one step from a direct assault on the sprawling status quo.

    It is not a vague generalization, but a punch on the nose to the alderwo/men whose wards are on the periphery and who regularly demonstrate their disintelligence to call the practice of annexing thousands of hectares of viable agricultural land for ultra-low density subdivisions “managing growth.”

    Nenshi may have a tough time fighting the rest of council, many of whom have a vested geographical interest (i.e, wards) in maintaining the status quo.

  • MB

    Here is a piece by Chris Turner in the Globe and Mail on why Nenshi of all people got elected:

  • Bill McCreery

    @ MB. Going from 60 to 70 pph ain’t going to cut it for a walkable, sustainable neighbourhood. Businesses need a customer catchment to survive. A good part of the rest of that platform paper, although laudable, is thin. Calgary is made up of +/-75% planned subdivisions which have dead end street layouts making a conversion to other forms of transportation difficult.

    However, as I said, it’s a start. And, challenges are good. There are definitely some interesting planning challenges which will require real creativity. Hey, hopefully they can raise the bar.