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OPINION: FCM is Here, Will Nenshi Be There?

Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Facebook Photo)

As someone who usually sidesteps provincial politics unless they intersect with municipal matters, I find myself particularly drawn to this week’s Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Calgary, taking place from June 6th to June 9th. The event promises to gather a formidable array of Mayors, Reeves, Wardens, and Councillors from across the nation to deliberate on pressing municipal issues. 

While I’m eager to attend in person, health permitting, there’s a particular subplot that has caught my interest: Will the former Mayor of Calgary, make an appearance?

Naheed Nenshi's unexpected attendance at the Alberta Municipalities Leadership Summit in Edmonton earlier this year has sparked a flurry of speculation among Alberta’s municipal leaders - with my phone buzzing over the weekend asking me If I knew if the former Mayor was going to be in attendance.

Many of those calls have asked "What the over/under Nenshi attends FMC?"

But why does this matter?

The timing is crucial. This week, while municipal leaders converge in Calgary, members of the Alberta NDP are voting on their potential future leader—a role Nenshi is heavily tipped for. His appearance at the FCM conference could send mixed signals about his priorities. Does he still hold a deep-seated connection to his former municipal role, or is he wholeheartedly committed to his prospective political future with the Alberta NDP?

For those within the Alberta NDP ranks, Nenshi’s presence at the FCM could be perceived as a lack of focus on the leadership campaign. It might suggest he’s more interested in reliving his mayoral glory days than in engaging with the pressing concerns of the province’s electorate.

From a strategic standpoint, I would hazard a guess that Nenshi is huddling with the strategists to weigh out the options - about attending or attending a party event in another part of the province.

Yet, the dilemma is a bit nuanced.

Nenshi’s background and achievements as a three-term mayor are intrinsic to his political identity. His deep understanding of municipal issues and his proven track record in navigating the complexities of city governance are part of what makes him a compelling candidate for the Alberta NDP leadership. Ignoring the FCM conference altogether might be seen as a disservice to the municipal leaders who view him as a staunch advocate for local governance.

Although, his involvement in the FCM could be interpreted as a signal of his enduring commitment to municipal issues, reflecting a leader who values continuity and understands the critical interplay between municipal and provincial governance. On the other hand, it could also reinforce the narrative that he is more invested in his past achievements than in the pressing future challenges facing Alberta.

Nenshi’s political future within the Alberta NDP hinges on his ability to demonstrate unwavering dedication to provincial matters. His leadership campaign needs to focus on engaging with Albertans, addressing their concerns, and articulating a clear vision for the province’s future. Any distraction, however well-intentioned, could undermine his campaign’s momentum.

For the attendees of the FCM conference, Nenshi’s presence would undoubtedly be a notable highlight. However, for the Alberta NDP members casting their votes, his attendance might raise questions about his current priorities and commitment.

The stakes are high, and the need to project a singular focus on provincial issues is paramount. The decision to attend—or not—will inevitably be dissected and analyzed, not just by his political opponents but by his potential supporters as well. 


Jun 05

In my role as a Mayor I know the impact provincial politics has on local gov’t, relationships matter. Nenshi’s appearance signals his commitment to relationships with local government going forward which is critical to governing a province, those local governments represent nearly everyone in a province. Not a bad thing in any way.


Jun 05

Nenshi only serves one master, himself and his WEF membership. As he destroyed Calgary, he will do the same with our province if elected.

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