Tag Archives: Naheed Nenshi

Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi first in World Mayor prize

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Photo  Neil Zeller, © 2013, City of Calgary

Naheed Nenshi, mayor of Calgary, Alberta, was awarded  first place Tuesday in the 2014 World Mayor Prize, by the City Mayor Foundation, an international think tank. Said the World Mayor organization in its announcement

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, the winner of the 2014 World Mayor Prize, is the most admired mayor of any large Canadian city. His vision how a city should plan for its future has attracted the attention of urban thinkers from across North America. Since taking office in 2010, he has become the most admired mayor of any large Canadian city. He is an urban visionary who doesn’t neglect the nitty-gritty of local government. For many in North America and indeed Europe, Mayor Nenshi is a role model for decisive management, inclusivity and forward planning. He has also demonstrated strong leadership during disasters like the Alberta floods of 2013 and last year’s power outage, which affected large parts of the downtown area of the city. While Mayor Nenshi rejects being labelled progressive or indeed anything else – in the World Mayor interview he said: “I really believe that this kind of categorization alienates people and keeps them from participating in the political process.” – he has not shied away from challenging conservative views from some members of Alberta’s provincial government.

 In 2010 Naheed Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city after his ‘Purple Revolution’ captured the imagination of voters from right across the political spectrum. Some six weeks before the 18 October 2010 elections, opinion polls only credited Naheed Nenshi with eight per cent support but extensive use of social media combined with tireless door stepping – his supporters even organised coffee parties in their homes where Nenshi explained his vision – propelled him to victory on election day. Three years later the Mayor was re-elected with almost three quarters of votes cast.

Nenshi, who embodies the face of change in Canada’s once-conservative, white-bread energy capital of Calgary, has been a political star since he not only adroitly provided leadership in the historic flood that ravaged the city in 2013, but did so with panache. He is a known policy wonk, former academic, a self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal willing to fetter some business, and an Ismaili Muslim.  He was profiled by Brian Brennan in Canada’s Mayor, the first original feature in the inaugural issue of Facts and Opinions. (The magazine story was awarded Runner-up, Best Feature Article, 2014, in the Professional Writers Association of Canada Awards.)

The other 2014 winners of the World Mayor project are:

  • Daniël Termont, Ghent, Belgium
  • Tri Rismaharini, Surabaya, Indonesia
  • Carlos Ocariz, Sucre, Venezuela
  • Jed Patrick Mabilog, Iloilo City, Philippines
  • Albrecht Schröter, Jena, Germany
  • Annise Parker, Houston, United States
  • Yiannis Boutaris, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Giusy Nicolini, Lampedusa, Italy
  • Aziz Kocaoglu, Izmir, Turkey

 The British-based World Mayor philanthropic organization, which refuses advertising and donations, said in its manifesto its aim is to raise the profile of mayors worldwide, “honour those who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally.”

“In this century, metropolitan areas, rather than nation states, will shape the world’s social, cultural, technological and economic agendas. This process will lead to increased competition for human, intellectual and material resources but will also force cities to co-operate with and learn from one another,” said the project.

“An outstanding mayor must possess qualities such as: honesty, leadership and vision, good management abilities, social and economic awareness, ability to provide security and to protect the environment, as well as having the skill to cultivate good relations between communities different cultural, racial and social backgrounds.”   Contenders area also required to sign a statement of ethics.

Further reading:

 Canada’s Mayor by Brian Brennan (paywall, accessible with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription.)

World Mayor: the 2014 winners, World Mayor project

City Mayors Foundation

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F&O’s first magazine feature wins kudos

Brennan B&W

Brian Brennan

Congratulations to F&O founding feature writer Brian Brennan, whose story Canada’s Mayor — F&O’s first original magazine feature — won Runner-up, Best Feature Article, in the 2014 Professional Writers Association of Canada Awards

Here’s what we said on our Frontlines blog to announce the piece when it was published September 30, 2013:

When river flooding inundated downtown Calgary, it caused billions of dollars in damage and tested the leadership of Naheed Nenshi, a first-term mayor who handled the crisis so adroitly that he attracted national and international media attention. 

How did this former policy wonk and self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal and a Muslim, come out of nowhere to defy the stereotypes?

How did Nenshi become the unlikely leader of Canada’s politically conservative energy capital, at a time when oil companies and environmentalists anxiously await a decision from President Obama on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline? 

We thought it was an excellent piece, good enough for our launch. We’re thrilled that PWAC agrees, and we thank the association and congratulate all of the winners. 

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Naheed Nenshi’s unlikely stardom

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Naheed Nenshi. © 2013 Neil Zeller (City of Calgary photo)

There are strange doings in Alberta, the Canadian province that’s often compared to America’s state of Texas.

Alberta has been characterized by its Go-Get-‘Em attitude, cowboy hats, and an economy based on oil and gas extraction, especially the oil sands in its north. It’s widely associated with the full-throated call for unfettered markets by its neo-liberal “Calgary School” of economics. Alberta is home to Canada’s Bible Belt. Its Wildest and Westest city is dubbed Cowtown for its famous Calgary Stampede, but has developed into one of the world’s great modern energy headquarters. In short, Alberta has been fertile territory for Canada’s version of America’s Republican party. 

Alberta is now at a crossroads: a landlocked province, it’s on tenterhooks awaiting U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision on approving the next leg of the Keystone pipeline, crucial for transporting bitumen from Alberta oil sands to world markets. And yet, despite its safe historic identity and these parlous times, the citizens of Calgary have abandoned their predictable scripts. They’ve enthusiastically embraced a leader who surely ranks amongst the world’s least-likely political stars: Naheed Nenshi, a former policy wonk and academic, a self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal quite willing to fetter some sorts of business, and an Ismaili Muslim. 

Nobody, noplace and nothing can be captured in the simplistic terms I’ve used above, of course. But facts underly most stereotypes – and if there’s even a grain of truth in Alberta stereotypes, a remarkable political shift is now underway. Conservative, staid Alberta has begun electing politicians, both provincially and locally, who can only be characterized as “moderate,” perhaps even “progressive.” Provincially last year, Albertans voted for the centrist Progressive Conservative party over the far-right Wild Rose Party. This week its two biggest cities chose unapologetically “progressive” mayors: Nenshi by a 74 per cent landslide in Calgary, and a newcomer named Don Iveson by six out of 10 voters in the provincial capitol Edmonton.

Nenshi, who came to national and international media attention earlier this year after massive floods struck Calgary (he was called a “superhero” for his adroit handling of the crisis) is arguably the poster child of this shift. 

But as surprising as it is to find Nenshi as Calgary’s much-loved mayor, he is no risk-taker. His role as a change-maker may be more symbolic than actual. In his first term he proved willing to forcefully push back against opponents on local issues – but he very deftly avoided the big issues:  North America’s culture wars and Alberta’s bête noire, climate change. The question now is whether his horizons will expand in term two.

Log in to read Canada’s Mayor, a profile of Nenshi by Alberta author Brian Brennan, in the Magazine section, accessible with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription.

 

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Naheed Nenshi, Canada’s Mayor

Nenshi3When river flooding inundated downtown Calgary, it caused billions of dollars in damage and tested the leadership of Naheed Nenshi, a first-term mayor who handled the crisis so adroitly that he attracted national and international media attention. 
 
How did this former policy wonk and self-styled “brown guy,” a liberal and a Muslim, come out of nowhere to defy the stereotypes?

How did Nenshi become the unlikely leader of Canada’s politically conservative energy capital, at a time when oil companies and environmentalists anxiously await a decision from President Obama on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline? 

Read Brian Brennan‘s story Canada’s Mayor: Naheed Nenshi in F&O’s Think/Magazine section, with a $1 day pass for the entire site, or by subscription starting at $2.95 per month

 

 

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