Calgary’s new mayor – what’s not being said

I first heard that Naheed Nenshi was up for Calgary mayor just yesterday – a high school buddy “liked” him on Facebook and updated his profile photo to a campaign badge. Obviously I’m not paying much attention to Canadian municipal politics, but considering I’ve been listening to CBC radio for 12 hours a day for the past 10 days, I’m a bit surprised.

This is huge news. Politicians across this country should pay close attention. So often, complaints are made about the disengagement of the Canadian public in politics, how youth don’t get out to vote, but I have always believed that it’s the politicians, not the public that is the problem. The pettiness and negativity that exists in Parliament and out, and the self-censorship that seems to be required for towing the party line but that disallows intelligent, engaged conversation, drives me crazy. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Most of the news on Nenshi is about the fact that he is – gasp! – the first Muslim be elected mayor of a major Canadian city. However, I think the bigger news is that Obama-style excitement and politics from the ground up happened right here in Canada. People got engaged. People voted. And this is possibly the first time an article with the word “Muslim” in it drew a majority of positive comments on the Globe and Mail’s website.

Somehow though, what the media has missed completely is the fact that Naheed was part of the inspiration for my very first blog post, back in June of 2009. We were both at the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy conference at Carleton. Naheed is the first tenured professor of nonprofit management in Canada. (And has an abundance of other exciting experience – check him out; he’s cool.) At one workshop, we had a side chat about the pros and cons of various Twitter plugins, we soon came to the realization that he was the same Naheed Nenshi I had referenced when building a wikipedia page on Nonprofit Studies. Though while I’d like to say that we go way back, in reality this post looks way back, but Nenshi is looking to the future.