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Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi hopes to lead the Alberta NDP to victory

Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is running for leader of the Alberta NDP. Nenshi served as Calgary’s mayor for three terms between 2010 and 2021. 

“I’m an Albertan. I grew up here and after living and working all over the world, I chose to come and make my life here,” says Nenshi. 

Nenshi says he decided to join the Alberta NDP leadership race after he became increasingly troubled with the UCP government. “Not only what they stand for, but how poorly they’re doing in their actual work.” 

When Nenshi was mayor, he worked with six premiers and three different political parties. “I had the chance to work with all of them and advocate for Calgary and they were varying degrees of good or bad or varying degrees of I agreed or I disagreed, but I’ve never seen a government quite like this before.” 

“To me, they seem profoundly uninterested in actually governing. They just want to score political points on their perceived enemies,” adds Nenshi. 

Nenshi believes the UCP government only knows how to do two things – “pick fights and waste money and Albertans deserve better than that.” 

“Ultimately, I realized I had to help Alberta do better,” says Nenshi.

He says in a time when Albertans feel as though they’re in crisis mode, life is getting less affordable and the healthcare system is at the brink of collapse, the government doesn’t seem to care. “They seem to dither and listen to their own advisors, but not the experts and not the science.” 

Nenshi says enough people have told him one of his skills has always been trying to bring people together around a common cause. “You can’t be a bystander at such a critical time.” 

Alberta’s NDP, Nenshi says, reflects the values Albertans hold. “Our job is to convince people in Lethbridge, around southern Alberta and everywhere else in the province, if they want a better Alberta – the Alberta NDP reflects the kind of Alberta they want.” 

Nenshi admits he is well aware he needs to spend a lot more time in southern Alberta and in Lethbridge. “I need to learn a lot more about people’s concerns.”

Plans are in the works for Nenshi to visit Lethbridge in the weeks to come. “I look forward to meeting a lot more people.” 

Nenshi says some of the issues reflective of what he is hearing in every corner of Alberta from conservative voting constituents is they are very concerned about this version of the conservative government. “This UCP is not the conservative party they’ve always supported.” 

Moving forward, Nenshi says the plan is to reach out to people in every corner of the province and hear their concerns. “Hear the concerns of the people in southern Alberta who sometimes drive by two closed emergency rooms to get to one open on a weekend or on a holiday to understand the concerns people have with healthcare, education and social services.” 

“To understand the concerns we have with ensuring Albertans have access to the global economy through high-speed internet access – all kinds of things like that. I am interested in learning much more because I really believe the Alberta NDP, if they are going to form government, cannot be a party of Calgary, Edmonton and one seat in Lethbridge. We really have to be able to reach out to all Albertans and understand their concerns and help them see where we stand on the things that matter to them,” adds Nenshi. 

Nenshi says Albertans are Canadians and constantly fighting against fellow Canadians in the guise of fighting Ottawa is not helpful. “The challenge is – if you pick fights all day and you don’t resolve them or make deals, you just end up picking more fights.” 

“When I was mayor for 11 years, it was just under half of my time with a conservative prime minister in Ottawa and just over half with the Liberal prime minister in Ottawa,” says Nenshi. 

Under former prime minister Harper, Nenshi says, Calgary received the largest federal infrastructure funding in Calgary’s history. “Under Prime Minister Trudeau, we received more federal funding for Calgary than any other large city in Canada, so I make deals. I will fight for Alberta’s interests always, but I will also bring something home at the end of it.” 

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