Yesterday I was surprised and pleased to find myself in the company of Calgary’s newly-elected Mayor Naheed Nenshi who dropped by my place for a cup of tea before heading back to Calgary. He had been up to meet with the premier and Mayor Mandel.
I first met Nenshi in person four years ago when mutual friends put us in touch, since he had run for Calgary city council in 2004. We learned a lot from those meetings which definitely helped me get elected in 2007.
Turns out I knew some of his work from before that, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Nenshi and I were both part of a project in 2002 that was put on by a group called Canada 25, which was a non-partisan public policy forum that ran for a few years back in the early 2000s. The core group was a network of former university student leaders who did this to stay connected.
In the summer of 2002 they held a series of roundtables on cities, competitiveness, creativity and attracting and retaining young people. This was a time when we were all fretting about the brain drain and when Canadian mayors were screaming for a new deal for cities. These discussions had a profound impact on my thinking about urban issues and in retrospect I’m sure this contributed to my interest in municipal politics.
I was a bit player but it was Nenshi himself who penned the very thoughtful final report: “Building Up: Making Canada’s Cities Magnets for Talent and Engines of Development”. So, if you want to understand his agenda and mine, to the extent that they may overlap, reading this report would be your best starting point.