Canada Why Naheed Nenshi can lose in Calgary

15:06  12 october  2017
15:06  12 october  2017 Source:   Maclean's

Over-spending and taxes — not a new arena — top Calgary voter concerns in new poll

  Over-spending and taxes — not a new arena — top Calgary voter concerns in new poll A new poll released just two weeks before the municipal election suggests overspending and taxes at city hall are the primary concerns for voters. And while talks over a new home for the Calgary Flames has dominated headlines and thrust drama into the election campaign, the arena debate barely registers as a major issue for residents, according to the poll by Edmonton-based Trend Research.The Calgary Chamber, which commissioned the poll, will use the results to drive home its calls for reduced spending and a more fair property tax regime for businesses when it holds a mayoral debate Monday night.

A full-court press by conservatives—and his own reputation for arrogance—threaten to unseat a celebrated mayor.

I thought she was going to say, why are we having all this focus on these refugees when we have so many problems closer to home? I might have lost it at that point.” – Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi , Nov 20th 2015.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaks to reporters about the city's position on the Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh: Nenshi speaking to reporters about the city’s position on the Saddledome in Calgary THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh © Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2017. Nenshi speaking to reporters about the city’s position on the Saddledome in Calgary THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Like one Calgary cultural stereotype nesting within another, dozens of conservative activists in cowboy duds gathered last July for beef and beer on a restaurant patio. It was a Stampede party hosted by Alberta Can’t Wait, one of several political groups to rise in opposition to Rachel Notley’s NDP government. Jason Kenney (white cowboy hat) and Brian Jean (black cowboy hat) were at “Yahoo for Unity,” named for the merger between their respective Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties. Federal Conservative politicos showed up too, including new leader Andrew Scheer. And some candidates for the fall’s civic election joined the party; Kenney mugged for photos sporting a “Bill Smith for Mayor” button on his Wrangler shirt.

Popular Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi battling for his political life

  Popular Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi battling for his political life Popular Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi battling for his political lifeWith only two weeks left before election day, one recent robo-poll has him well behind a complete newcomer to municipal politics with a very ordinary name: Bill Smith.

Why Nenshi ? Charlie Foran, Institute for Canadian Citizenship CEO. Globally known for his passion to make cities, especially Calgary , work better, Naheed Nenshi is currently serving his second term and is Calgary ’s 36th mayor.

Rob Ford vs. Naheed Nenshi : Understanding Toronto’s jealousy. Why some Torontonians wish they had Calgary 's mayor. That weekend, Nenshi retweeted a woman searching for her lost one-eyed pug.

Conservatives are taking that Alberta Can’t Wait cry especially seriously in Calgary, where they really can’t wait. Since 2015, they’ve been governed by Liberal Justin Trudeau federally, NDP provincially, and Naheed Nenshi locally. It’s a two-year wait before the federal and Alberta elections, but they might dispatch Calgary’s progressive mayor next Monday. They would replace Nenshi with Smith, a boutique legal-service firm owner, the Alberta PCs’ former president, and a nondescript figure foreign to Calgary civic affairs until local conservatives mounted an insurgent campaign around him in the spring.

Since shaking one’s fist at depressed oil prices is like yelling at clouds, Calgarians still smarting from the downturn seethe at a maelstrom of government moves: income tax hikes, pipeline decisions, carbon taxes, minimum wage increases, and some city hall matters like expensive, roadside public art and property taxes—the typical homeowner pays the city 55 per cent more than in 2010, the year of Nenshi’s come-from-nowhere victory. The bookish-yet-inspirational speaker and mischievously grinning urban booster has seen his coalition erode, his popularity sink and his right-leaning opposition harden. Slowly but surely, the question on local lips has changed. Until very recently, it was an incredulous “C’mon, can Nenshi lose?” With days to go before the vote on Oct. 16, it’s shifted between “Yikes, is Nenshi going to lose?” and “Can Nenshi win?”

'Is there any popcorn?' Nenshi reacts to Chabot and Smith conflict

  'Is there any popcorn?' Nenshi reacts to Chabot and Smith conflict 'Is there any popcorn?' Nenshi reacts to Chabot and Smith conflictAs the conservative candidates go head to head for the mayor's chair, Calgary's incumbent Naheed Nenshi is enjoying the show.

Naheed Nenshi : Why I march in Pride. We would love to have you volunteer on Team Nenshi . Together, we’ll spread the word about Naheed ’s vision for the City of Calgary and the people who call it home.

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It’s been a race sorely short on trustworthy polling, but the only sets of media-sponsored numbers out there, by Mainstreet Research, had Smith up by nine per cent in late September and by 17 points last week. The demographic breakdowns raise questions—the conservative candidate was way up among women in one Mainstreet poll, and among youth (Nenshi’s base) in another—so much so that University of Calgary political scientist Jack Lucas observed that such skewed results would be completely at odds with the history of election results in Canada. Then, on Wednesday, a pro-transit group released its own survey showing Nenshi up by 15 points; yet in that poll, respondents were first asked transit-friendly questions right up the current mayor’s alley. The Smith and Nenshi campaigns both say privately their own numbers show them ahead, but not by much. Nenshi could win. Nenshi could lose.

New poll puts Naheed Nenshi 15 points ahead of Bill Smith in mayor's race

  New poll puts Naheed Nenshi 15 points ahead of Bill Smith in mayor's race A new poll done for a Green Line advocacy group found strong support for the project — and for the incumbent mayor. Commissioned by LRT on the Green Foundation, the online poll found 70 per cent of respondents want to see the full, 46-kilometre route built in stages and 77 per cent support moving ahead with a 20-kilometre first stage currently funded by the three levels of government. The survey also asked respondents who they support for mayor and found:- Naheed Nenshi 41 per cent.- Bill Smith 26 per cent.- Andre Chabot three per cent.- Other two per cent.- Undecided 28 per cent.

And if he is denied a third term, Nenshi will have fallen not only because of his growing reputation for arrogance, but because the local electorate had already turned on Notley and Trudeau, and wanted to thwack the nearest thing they could find. Conservatives have pent-up energy from past defeats, and crave victory—or at least practice before provincial and federal elections in 2019. One researcher from Reform Party founder Preston Manning’s namesake Manning Centre is running for councillor, and the conservative group’s training director is organizing for a fellow tax-fighting candidate. In traditionally slate-free elections, there’s a right-wing slate trying to sweep the Calgary public school board; in much of Calgary various candidates are trying to secure council seats with near-facsimiles of the Conservative Party of Canada’s blue lawn signs. (Bill Smith’s signs are in black and white, with as stark a slogan: “It’s time for a change.”)

The mood among the lean-government crowd seems to be a hunger to take Calgary back, return the mayoral gavel to conservative hands. Except, it hasn’t been there in a long, long time. Nenshi beat the blue-sign conservative rivals in 2010. His predecessor Dave Bronconnier, a former Chrétien Liberal candidate, beat a Tory MLA. Ralph Klein was the debt-amassing progressive populist mayor of the 1980s before he became an arch-Tory premier in the 1990s. You actually have to go back before the Second World War to find a Calgary mayor who campaigned and won with Conservative links, as Smith has. Why? Because, as historically conservative and anti-tax as Calgarians are, they like a city hall that provides them with stuff a booming (and sometimes busting) city needs: better transit, new highway interchanges, recreation centres and the like.

Nenshi has big lead over closest contender in Calgary's mayoral race, new Forum poll suggests

  Nenshi has big lead over closest contender in Calgary's mayoral race, new Forum poll suggests A new poll by Forum Research puts incumbent mayoral candidate Naheed Nenshi ahead of challenger Bill Smith by 17 points — a major departure from results put out so far by another polling firm."In contrast to what the other polls are saying, I think our data are showing [Nenshi] has a pretty decent chance come election day," said Michael McGregor, a professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University in Toronto.

RELATED: Naheed Nenshi: The reluctant brand

Though Nenshi first won by campaigning as a penny-watcher, he’s hiked taxes and often tried to make sure people appreciate what they get for it—less god-awful snow removal, a southeast transit expansion and a new central library. Now that wages in the energy sector have flatlined, gone down or ceased to exist, big ideas and big investments may have fallen out of favour.

Bill Smith’s campaign eschews grand proposals, other than promises to rethink various transit proposals. Those who knew him before knew him as a nice guy, but the angry calls flooding his campaign office prompted advisors to give him angrier, change-minded messages with classic conservative themes about out-of-control spending, damn-the-statistics crime worries and getting out of the way of business. In contrast to Nenshi’s bulging-eyed, passionate style, Smith is one-hand-in-my-pocket casual and monotonic. Unlike the brainy and detail-minded incumbent, the challenger is vague in a way that conveys a distinct incuriousness about city hall’s fine-grained issues: at the final mayoral debate, his answers suggested little more skill on the stump than that of the fringe and no-hope candidates seated around him. The clear sign he’s the front-runner wasn’t on stage; it was the constant applause from his many supporters in attendance. His campaign has been pocked with blunders and apologies, and the recent revelation a bailiff tried to seize his business property because he was behind on loan repayments, which Smith attributed to forgetting an address change.

"Nasty, partisan" campaign severely testing a once-unassailable mayor heads to its climax

  For one political wonk, the apogee of the mayoral battle’s final debate boiled down a campaign that’s dredged up ugly heat and put an incumbent’s once-safe reign in doubt. For one political wonk, the apogee of the mayoral battle’s final debate boiled down a campaign that’s dredged up ugly heat and put an incumbent’s once-safe reign in doubt.

Bill Smith, right, is in the lead against incumbent Naheed Nenshi , centre and longtime councillor Andre Chabot, left, in the race for mayor, according to a new poll. High stakes, tough times, open seats: Why this year's Calgary election is one for the books.

None of these shortcomings may matter. The first crashing of a Calgary conservative wave might knock Nenshi out, assisted largely by a problem for Nenshi that reportedly keeps coming up at the doorstep: his arrogance. As he’ll insist, all politicians have a cockiness, but the flipside of Nenshi’s identity as a charismatic brainiac is his thin-skinned tendency to lash out if slighted, and a high-handedness that frays relationships and alienates allies. His Popeye-esque “I yam who I yam” defence works until it doesn’t, as a pile of examples suggests: a spat with a home builder that led to a drawn out and costly defamation lawsuit; a brash rant against Uber caught on video. And even though he comes out of the Calgary Flames arena spat looking far more fiscally shrewd than the owners, their exasperation with him helped build this narrative.

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Despite his rhetorical shortcomings, Smith did twist the knife well at a Chamber of Commerce debate, comparing Nenshi to a promising job candidate. “They have great credentials, their references all check out, but as time goes along you realize they’re not the right person for the job,” he said. “They don’t listen to advice, they don’t keep their promises, they don’t learn from their mistakes, they don’t work well with others and they always think they’re the smartest person in the room. At some point you realize they’re holding you back. You fire them.” Nenshi later fired back: “Well, you wouldn’t hire anybody who has no idea what he’s talking about.”

Naheed Nenshi put out a fire, now must deal with the Flames

  Naheed Nenshi put out a fire, now must deal with the Flames What Nenshi’s close brush with defeat against an inexperienced conservative candidate means for the arena debate—and the next provincial electionThe first salvo in the battle that will likely define Naheed Nenshi’s third term as Calgary mayor came in a tweet that only survived in this world for a few minutes. It was from Sean Kelso, the Calgary Flames director of communications, who should know better how to manage his way out of public-relations messes than to concoct his own.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi , once named the best mayor in the world, isn’t looking so popular at That’s why the municipal election in Calgary is about much more than who can hold the line on If Nenshi loses , they can expect to lose too. Gillian Steward is a Calgary writer and former managing

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi . (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/CP). That’s crazy. Why aren’t we supplying our own energy needs with the energy we have in this country and finding new markets as well?

Calgarians now get to decide if Nenshi’s flaws warrant turfing him in favour of a less qualified, less experienced candidate. That or they must wait, and mount their comeback in other elections.

More about Naheed Nenshi:

  • In arena talks, Calgary Flames owners spectacularly misread the shot
  • Calgary’s bad 2026 bid: $4.6 billion for the discount Olympics
  • Canadian politicians need to stop saying ‘math is hard’
  • Naheed Nenshi and Michelle Rempel in Twitter spat over math remark
  • Trudeau rebuffs Nenshi’s request for federal funding for pandas

What Naheed Nenshi’s re-election means for Calgary Flames arena talks .
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi’s re-election on Monday night likely didn’t make things better for the Flames hopes of building a new rink with the city. They may very well have gotten worse.

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