No, Nenshi isn’t running for the Liberals
No, Liberals and progressives alike, Nenshi isn’t throwing his hat into the provincial or federal arenas as either an MP or a leadership candidate.
He’s happiest where he is right now. Twenty years of schooling, networking, and focus has brought him to the mayoralty of Calgary. His efforts at the Kennedy School of government, his scholarship, and his efforts through consulting over the past dozen years, all have lead up to being the mayor. His founding of community associations, his efforts with communities, and his many roles as leader throughout his life has been finally accumulated to the point of the mayorship. City and community building is his passion.
The only way he’d be happier is if he was given trillions dollars and told to “have at it” at a patch of earth to build his perfect city. But this is inside the realm of fantasy and not what we have to deal with today in Calgary-Centre or for the leadership of the Liberals. Nenshi is happy where he is, has no plans on either Calgary-Centre or the leadership of a party. He’s focused on being the best mayor he can be and he is some 65 weeks from the next municipal election.
So he’s not going to run for the Liberals. Or push himself out of municipal politics.
This also forgets some fundamental problems with parties in Canadian politics. Nenshi has perfected the style of politics of communicating expertise coupled with slick and professional campaigning that creates at once meaning and a fundamental connection with voters. Attaching his name to a party would undermine that, along with the non-partisan coalition that pushed him to his successes in 2010. It would be a short and brutal entrance into another sphere of politics, and wouldn’t help either Calgarians or Nenshi.
This isn’t to say that any party wouldn’t want him. Or that he wouldn’t make a good MLA or MP. It’s just that the way that the current system is set up either this leader will either have to have the system change around him or for him to change himself–both options being difficult as he’s principled and the system stubborn. This is a problem. If parties cannot access the next generation of leaders there is going to be less and less effective government at the highest levels. Nenshi is only one example of this trend. There are many others who are engaged in their communities and cannot break into the party politics that dominate both the provincial and federal political arenas.