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Former Calgary mayor becomes Alberta NDP leader

Photo: Jeff McIntosh The Canadian Press Naheed Nenshi during his victory speech as the new leader of the NDP in Alberta, Saturday

The Canadian Press in Calgary

Published at 7:15 p.m.

  • Canada

Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was able to appeal to new members outside the traditional fold of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Alberta, a success that propelled him to the leadership of the gone.

Mr. Nenshi becomes the first Calgarian to lead the NDP. He won in stunning fashion, receiving 86% of the vote in the first ballot of the leadership race.

The race was seen as a battle between the NDP's ideological roots and the political pragmatism of this traditionally conservative province.

The party's membership, which quintupled to 85 000 during the campaign, opted for Mr. Nenshi's quick wit and public prominence.

Mr. Nenshi wasted no time launching attacks against his new political enemy, using his victory speech to criticize Premier Danielle Smith's Conservative government for being narrow-minded.

“This extraordinary movement we have created together is an example of what is possible when we stop thinking small and start thinking big,” he told the enthusiastic crowd of worshipers of the party.

Mr. Nenshi made international headlines when he became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city in 2010. He served three terms before stepping down ahead of the 2021 municipal elections.< /p>

He now becomes leader of the opposition, but does not hold a seat in the Legislative Assembly himself.

Former leader Rachel Notley announced in January that she was stepping down from the top job after the party lost its second consecutive election to the United Conservative Party.

Despite losing last year to Premier Danielle Smith, the NDP won 38 of the 87 seats in the Legislative Assembly, becoming the largest opposition in the province's history.

Notley-era ministers Sarah Hoffman and Kathleen Ganley, as well as new member of the legislature Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse were also in the running for the position.

Mr. Nenshi has been criticized by some party members as a liberal opportunist. He has rejected the criticism, saying his values ​​are fundamental to Alberta.

His political hallmark has always been purple – neither Conservative blue nor Liberal red.

He said it was an invitation to voters to put aside their tribalism. And during the NDP leadership race, he added pops of NDP orange to his wardrobe.

Jeromy Farkas, a conservative voice on the city council Calgary during Mr. Nenshi's tenure as mayor described him as a strong behind-the-scenes collaborator who managed to galvanize the NDP in a way that Conservatives have reason to be concerned about.

“I don't think, at least beyond the surface, that many current [NDP] MPs take kindly to the idea of ​​a savior riding his purple horse,” Mr. Farkas said.

“That said, limbs are what you make them. And in real time, we see Nenshi reform the NDP to change what it means to be the NDP. »

Mr. Nenshi also sparked debate over the party's future identity, questioning whether it should retain its membership ties with its federal counterpart.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116