Nenshi says federal parties shouldn't take Calgary for granted, despite its voting record

The city today launched YYC Matters, a civic campaign that pins down politicians on key platform issues with the aim of helping citizens decide whom to vote for.

'Who we vote for matters, and I really think it's important to pin them down on these key issues'

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he was 'super disappointed' with the way the federal election campaign kicked off, with 'just personal attacks one after the other and very little idea of what people are actually going to do.' (CBC)

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says his city is often an afterthought in federal election campaigns because it reliably pulls conservative, but he hopes the competing parties pay attention this time, because Calgary's success is critical to that of the rest of Canada.

"Even though the votes in Calgary might be considered a bit foregone, there is a real view from the federal ... parties, or at least I hope there will be, on making sure Calgary is successful — otherwise, the rest of their plans won't work," Nenshi told the Calgary Eyeopener.

On Thursday, the city launched YYC Matters, a civic campaign run by the city that asks competing political parties to specify how their platforms would affect Calgarians and the things that matter to them. 

The main topics in the questionnaire address how the major federal parties will support Calgary's economic recovery and energy industry, how they plan to honour existing commitments, what investments they would make in public infrastructure and how they would work to improve federal-municipal relations.

"Who we vote for matters, and I really think it's important to pin them down on these key issues," Nenshi said.

Economics of diversity

There are also questions that probe the various parties' stances on diversity and inclusion.

"I am worried that there's a lot of very reckless language being thrown about around immigration, around diversity, around inclusion," he said. 

Referencing census numbers released last week, Nenshi said that Calgary's population is aging, and there will be serious financial pressures if the city can't attract a young workforce.

"If we stop people from coming here, or we make them feel unwelcome when they get here, we just can't afford it. That means taxes go way up or services get cut way back," he said.

"Frankly, we don't have the luxury of indulging in this kind of behaviour to try and wake up some elements of the voting population."

The city expects to receive the federal parties' answers in early October.

Staff will conduct a brief bit of analysis to help Calgarians navigate those responses before posting the results on the city's website just before Thanksgiving.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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