Outgoing Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Photo: Cindy Hierlihy).

Almost from the day they took power in 2019, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has known how to get up the noses of Alberta’s United Conservative Party Government. 

It’s part of the man’s charm, although by no means all of it. 

Mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas, the clear favourite of Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party in today’s municipal election in Calgary (Photo: Jeromy Farkas/Twitter).

Yesterday, on the eve of the municipal election in which Calgary voters will choose the successor to the high-profile mayor who has served for the past decade, Mayor Nenshi fired a couple of well-aimed shots at the UCP’s favoured candidate to replace him at City Hall, Jeromy Farkas.

Mr. Farkas, a one-term Calgary city councillor and former Manning Centre apparatchik, has a history of acrimonious grandstanding in his four years in office. Last year, he was found by the city’s Integrity Commissioner to have breached Calgary’s Code of Conduct by posting false information on social media. Asked to apologize, he refused. 

No doubt the un-minced words of Mr. Nenshi’s Sunday intercession will make some members of Premier Jason Kenney’s strategic brain trust furious enough to pee their short pants, at least if Councillor Farkas fails to grasp the chain of office in today’s vote. 

Indeed, a couple of them were already tweeting irritably last night. “This is petty,” peeved Hadyn Place, press secretary to the infrastructure minister, about the mayor’s comments. “Petulant to the end,” sulked the premier’s communications and planning thingy, Brock Harrison, well known for his online petulance.

Mr. Nenshi’s message, appended to a tweet giving his “thoughts on the upcoming Calgary election – if it helps you make a decision on Election Day,” began on a note of optimism. 

Calgary, he argued, is at “a wet clay moment,” when because of the way the pandemic “has forced us to think about how the future will be different … we can mould our future.”

But to do that, he said, “it is critical that we choose those who can meet this moment in history, those who can take us into the positive future we want and we need.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Yes, Mayor Nenshi wrote, Calgary (and the rest of Alberta), may be facing “five simultaneous crises: a public health pandemic, a mental health and addiction challenge, economic dislocation, a climate emergency, and a reckoning on the issue of equity: generational equity, anti-racism, and reconciliation.”

But the city itself, he argued, is in good shape: It has money in the bank, his policies have enabled investment in front-line services, and taxes have been kept low by Canadian standards without services being cut. “We are the envy of every government in Canada.”

Nevertheless, he warned, inflation is real and “anyone who is promising a four-year tax freeze needs to explain how they will do it – particularly if they want to invest more in the largest department: the police.”

This, of course, is a shot at Mr. Farkas, the former Manning Centre apparatchik Premier Kenney would like to install in the mayor’s office as his government’s yes-man. 

There are only two ways to achieve such a freeze, Mayor Nenshi cautioned. “Massive cuts to smaller departments like parks and recreations or using up the savings account to paper over annual deficits. Maybe this is the right thing to do, but we need to be honest about it.”

“And speaking of being honest,” Mr. Nenshi added parenthetically, “I was shocked when Jeromy Farkas suggested city staff were somehow ‘skimming’ funds. This is false and misleading, and he should apologize and retract before he earns your vote.”

Mayor Nenshi, who has served three consecutive terms since he was elected in 2010, advised Calgary voters to ask themselves who they’d like to see bringing the face of Calgary to the world stage in the future. (The obvious inference: Not Mr. Farkas.)

“When you vote,” he concluded, “I hope you do so with optimism and joy. With hope for a better future.” And that, presumably, does not mean handing the city back to a puppet of the Sprawl Cabal of developers who have bankrolled the Manning Centre’s past efforts to run Mr. Nenshi out of Calgary City Hall. 

Indeed, it’s thought the whole equalization referendum scheme was a plan by the Kenney Government to get something on the ballot to motivate Conservative voters in Calgary to get out to vote against Mr. Nenshi – before the progressive mayor decided not to seek a fourth term. 

“Oh,” Mr. Nenshi concluded, “and do vote against Jason Kenney’s ridiculous referendums, on principle if nothing else.”

Sounder advice was never given than that last line, and not just to the good people of Alberta’s largest city. 

Albertans everywhere should take Mayor Nenshi’s advice and vote No on Premier Kenney’s dishonest and divisive referenda, just because. Today’s the day! 

Join the Conversation


  1. I suspect even the UCP now realizes that Nenshi will not go away quietly. He may not be mayor any more after the election, but that probably means he will be even freer to say what he thinks about them. He is no longer running in politics, so he has nothing to lose.

    In particular, Nenshi is right about the UCP referendum ploy. Kenney can’t even ask a clear question, taking equalization out of the Constitution actually does nothing to change it. It is a distraction though and Kenney sure needs anything to change the channel as they say.

    However, this could be a double edged situation for the UCP. If they want any chance of staying in power long term, they really need to get rid of their current leader fast. If the referendum succeeds, Kenney will surely take credit and it will make it harder to get rid of him. It may be be a short term boost, but will make things worse in the long term, much like the referendum itself.

  2. These pretend conservatives and Reformers hate it when someone with brains gets under their skin and exposes their lies. The pretend conservatives and Reformers that are in the UCP want to follow in the footsteps of their hero Ralph Klein, and make municipalities in Alberta pay for their bad decisions and policies, with large tax hikes. Like their hero, Ralph Klein, the UCP wants municipalities in Alberta to be among those that pay for the billions of dollars the UCP has squandered. Ralph Klein was no different, and by abandoning Peter Lougheed’s principles, he lost extremely large amounts of money and municipalities in Alberta also had services cut, and got large tax hikes. Where is the sense in that?

  3. It should be noted that Calgary’s other reactionary candidate is Kevin J. Johnson. His platform is described pretty much in a nut shell, end all public health care mandates, arrest all AHS officials who enforce, and stop Alberta’s “commie premier, Jason Kenney.” In other words, Johnson intends to use Calgary Police Services as his “army” and will abolish vaccinations and passports because “COVID is fake”. Johnson’s video podcasts are hilarious and wildly libellous, particularly when he gets into the sexual distractions of PMJT and Kenney. Or as Johnson puts it, “a middle aged man with no wife? There’s some weird shite going on.”

    Farkas (also known in some circles as “Fartface”) may find that with Johnson around, he may not be able to corner the market on the crazy vote.

    Nice to know that Alberta can still pull off the impressive amount of crazy. Or as James Louis Petigru said of antebellum South Carolina, “Is too small for a republic, but too large for an insane asylum.”

  4. I’d say Mr. Nenshi has earned the right to have a last word. And it’s rich that the guys effectively running a province-wide slate of pro-UCP municipal candidates should be criticizing him for it. How disinterestedly magisterial of them.

  5. Although the equalization referendum is an obvious ploy to bring out the right wing, the repugnant draft curriculum may bring out the more progressive voters to elect school board members who will stand up against it. It’s another example of UCP incompetence driving everyone away.

  6. Prior to voting early I crossed two candidates off my list. Jeromy Farkas and Kevin Johnstone. They may be dis similar at first glance however I believe their respective approach to politics and to the truth are very similar.

    Besides that, I would never, ever vote for any Manning Centre hack.

  7. Always liked Nenshi, thought the way he handled the flames and NHL teaming up to try to force taxpayers to buy them an arena was exemplary. Also have really enjoyed his ability to get reelected, which is a bit of a finger in the eye for some politicians and parties that I really don’t support. Wish him all the best, believe Alberta is worse off for his departure. *bangs stick against boards*

  8. Are we sure Calgary isn’t just small enough to be the asylum?

    Sure, Farkas and Johnson. But have you heard about…Hallelujah

    “It is my belief that all public servants: police, teachers, doctors, nurses, judges etc. may fail in delivering safe and unbiased services to all people. fMRI can help us detect and remove such errors by scanning for common psychoses such as racism, gender discrimination and pedophilia.”

    “We wish to make Calgary prosper post-CV. The city can be redesigned as a modern, healthy cancer- and meat-free zone by applying the best in modern science and medicine. Manufacture of alt protein can provide jobs to thousands.”

    “With regards to taxes, I am fully for doing away with all forms of taxation, at every level of government.”

    “One more leg in our platform is in regards to a deep mystery – there is a 14,500 km-wide, Earth-sized, persistent Hexagon on Saturn’s North pole – the 6th planet. There are also an equally-large Pentagon and Octagon on Jupiter’s poles – 5th of 8 planets….” He’s proposing to build a beacon at the Earth’s South Pole to communicate with aliens.


  9. I voted for Nenshi every election, and I enjoyed immensely watching the frothing and rending of garments that he induced in the developer/geologist Partei. The red-baiting Amway set and the Kloset-klansmen all despised him, and it’s always nice to see their hand-picked champions in full face-plant. That being said, Covidmania allowed Nenshi to slide by the coming storm. Parks will not even exist next year, and Recreation has been reduced to skeleton staffing levels since the Plague was announced in March, 2020. Gondek and council will have their hands full dealing with the economic tsunami that is bursting on the globe, as the economic collapse that was apparent in October, 2019 and blamed on the virus, starts to produce conditions unseen in these parts in quite some time. Sooner or later somebody’s going to have to reckon with whatever is causing the uptick in mortality in the under-45s, and it sure isn’t the virus.

  10. I’d like to thank him for his service, not only to his own city but to all cities. He clearly demonstrated how to be a good guy and a good mayor.

    Should he ever want to come to B.C., Vancouver could really use a good mayor.

    Thank you Mr. Nenshi

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