Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Well, Calgary's got a new mayor. I suppose I could say lots about this, but I'm tired, so just a few observations...
1) I'm excited for my hometown. Like Nenshi, I was born and raised in Calgary, and I remember how much of a rarity that was becoming into my high school and university days. It's good to have a Calgary-born dude in office.
2) I've been following the later stages of the campaign as much as I can from here in Korea and it's been exciting. I feel badly for Barb Higgins being treated as she was in the last few days, but those became missed opportunities for her to really respond with poise.
3) I'm relieved that Nenshi got in. With early poll results coming in, and Nenshi way back in 3rd, I had my doubts. I was getting all worked-up and ready to start name-calling good ol' Calgary for being unable to shake its red-neck past. Of course, that's not anything approaching fair, as a vote for others does not equate to a red-neck victory or even red-neck intention. Still, it says a lot about a conservative hot-bed of a city that would elect a flamboyant Muslim mayor today. Interesting.
4) It's been fun watching facebook turn purple with young people supporting Mr. Nenshi. He certainly ran the best campaign - and no, it wasn't just a popularity contest. Had it been, Barb Higgins would have won in a land-slide. Honestly though, if you have ever seen one of his town-hall meetings on youtube or checked out his policies as they were rolled-out, you would know that he was the most capable and certainly the most inspired candidate. Dude knows what he's talking about.
5) It's also been fun watching people fall over themselves with the fact that they know the guy (not such a a rarity as he is a Calgary guy). I used to know of Naheed Nenshi - but that was sometime ago. I can report from my Elementary School days however that Naheed Nenshi was, as a student of a "Gifted and Talented Education" program through Calgary Public Schools, clearly somebody destined for bigger and better things. I'm pretty sure that I got into that program on a paperwork error, while Naheed Nenshi - Mr. Debate Club, Student Council President, Model UN spokesman, etc., etc., etc., went on to rule the Student Union at U of C, then to Harvard, then to the actual UN, and so on. I barely knew him at all as he was a few grades ahead of me, but for those in the know (being those in Oakley Centre circa 1985/'86), his name became synonymous with academic achievement. To those of us who even knew him only then, "Mayor Nenshi" is not a surprise.
6) Which brings me to my last observation before my pillow observes my head at close range: It's staggering to see how many people are uncomfortable voting for a person who they might deem as being "too smart" or "too educated". Blue collar Calgary seems to have a distinct fear of egg heads. Personally speaking, for a city, province, or country, I'm thinking that we need the smartest cat for the job. If that's true, there are few who best Naheed Nenshi in that regard. Of course, you could say similar things about Mr. Obama south of the border. I'm still in his corner, if only because I still at times feel the hope (the word is still there) through (and of) which he speaks. Here's hoping that Nenshi doesn't get railroaded from "across the aisle" as Obama has been so far. Let the man do his work, folks.
7) Calgary is still not immune to the things other Canadians make fun of us for: in this case, being reactionary right-wing and anti-whatever-seems-"foreign". Perusing the message boards on the Calgary Sun website after the results were in, I found more than a few racist, anti-muslim, and homophobic remarks directed at the new mayor. These folks should really just move south and join the Tea Party, who it appears are always on the lookout for new ignorance in their ranks. Hold tight, Mayor Nenshi - because you're going to face some undue and unfair criticism that makes what Higgins got from Mike McCourt on Breakfast Television look like a ringing endorsement. Let's hope Calgary can rise above this and condemn to public shame those of their own who feel the need to publicly mutter what amounts to hate speech. What we will look back on as relics as a less-developed age...