Naheed Nenshi defends Davos trip as good value for Calgary

Calgary's mayor has been invited back to an exclusive international gathering of leaders in business and politics in Europe, but claims it is actually good value for money.

Calgary mayor to rub shoulders with business leaders, politicians in Europe at the World Economic Forum

Mayor Naheed Nenshi was only one out of three mayors who attended the event in Switzerland last year. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone/Associated Press)

Calgary's mayor has been invited back to an exclusive international gathering of leaders in business and politics in Europe.

Last year Naheed Nenshi had energy matters on his mind as he mixed it up with a blue chip World Economic Forum crowd in Davos, Switzerland.

He was apparently one of just three mayors to attend the event. (Mexico City and London provided the other two mayors.)

At this week's gathering, Nenshi has been invited to speak at a couple of panels.

One involves elected officials and natural disasters.

Calgary qualifies because of its flood last June. The prime minister of Haiti will join him on that one to speak about recovering from a devastating earthquake.

But it's not all work-work-work. Nenshi says there will be a dinner where he's been asked to speak about "your digital legacy."

Another one of the leaders at that session will be British rock star Peter Gabriel.

No, he won't sing, but Nenshi does joke that maybe he'll get a chance to ask Gabriel: "What does 'Shock the Monkey' actually mean?" (Younger news junkies: That was a catchy hit song in 1982. Nenshi was 10 years old at the time!)

Trip to cost less than $5,000

Nenshi says the trip's final bill — coming out of his office travel budget — should come in at less than $5,000.

He says it's actually good value for money.

Nenshi says last year he met with a major vendor for the city and managed to convince that person to drop the price on a contract.

His point is that informal contact helped save Calgary taxpayers some money.

He says he also made some connections with business people and politicos from other countries with high unemployment rates and left them with the important message that Calgary is hiring, especially in certain key professions and trades.

This year's intangible list already has one item on it. Nenshi has lined up meetings with what he calls senior leaders in the global insurance industry. 

They'll be chatting about overland flood insurance, an issue that has much trendiness in flood-ravaged southern Alberta.

Premier Alison Redford is also in Davos this week.

One wonders with all the people they would like to chat with if perhaps just a nod will suffice should they happen to see one another in a crowded foyer. 

After all, what chance is there that a deal on city charters could be nailed down in Davos?


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