Alberta Votes

Nenshi criticizes Tories for early election call

Mayor Naheed Nenshi criticized the Tories for calling an unnecessary and costly election, saying Calgarians “are not happy,” about it.

Public policy spokesperson says Prentice camp doesn't want battle with Nenshi

Mayor Nenshi jokingly muses about whether the anthem could be banned at NHL games after Supreme Court ruling (CBC)

Mayor Naheed Nenshi criticized the provincial Tories for calling an unnecessary and costly early election, saying Calgarians "are not happy" about it.

Premier Jim Prentice has already been panned by party leaders and political commentators for the election call.

Nenshi was asked about the election as the city announced a new transit app. He said there is no need for an election now, and also cited the high cost of running a campaign in the midst of other pressing issues.

"I don't think I would have called an election now," said Nenshi. "I think that there is a pretty good mandate. And I think that if we're in a world where it's difficult to find $200,000 to investigate the deaths of children in care, to then find $30 million to run an election, it's a tough argument for me to make if I were in that shoe."

He's getting plenty of feedback from Calgarians about the campaign, announced by Prentice on Tuesday.

Nenshi's biggest concern is that Albertans won't show up to vote. "I suspect we will have historically low voter turnout," he said. "They are not convinced there are really. . .  good options for them."

Robert Murray, of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, weighed in on Nenshi's comments, saying it "should certainly make the PCs take note."

Murray said Nenshi isn't unique in his opinion or the first to say it's an unnecessary election, but added, "It's certainly the first person at that level of prominence outside of the opposition parties that has expressed this opinion."

For Nenshi, it's a "smart strategy," from a political standpoint, said Murray. "Because the last thing you want to do is put the premier up there and run the risk of the premier offending or openly disagreeing with the mayor and turning this into a battle between the mayor of Calgary and the premier of Alberta." 

Although a CBC reporter was on the campaign bus with Prentice on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said he was not available to comment about Nenshi's views on the need for an election. 

However, a spokesperson reiterated what Prentice said on Tuesday about Alberta being at "turning point." "He has put forward a realistic 10-year vision that takes immediate and long-term action, and Albertans deserve an opportunity to judge that vision," said Mike Storeshaw.

Meanwhile, Nenshi said the city will launch the Cities Matter website.

The mayor says he wants to survey every party on where they stand on issues facing Alberta's cities. 

"We'll be spending a lot of time on city issues, engaging politicians on these urban issues," Nenshi said.

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