By Jesse Stilwell, October 17 2017 —
Calgary did its thing in last night’s municipal election and went with the conservative choice — but not in the way you would expect. They elected every single incumbent candidate, choosing four new faces only when this wasn’t an option. Calgarians want people that they can trust in council to help us get through the tail end of this economic slump.
People often forget that conservatism involves embracing change slowly and thoughtfully — it’s not just social conservatism and slashing spending. Calgary has always been conservative. We live in a city that is wary of change. This election offered the city a chance to elect a brand new council that espoused a divisive conservatism, which would have been a major change from the centrist governance Calgary’s had since 2013. This was a risk we proved unwilling to take.
It seemed like Nenshi finally had someone to give him a run for his money in Bill Smith. But Smith lacked principle. He was willing to fork up money for sports infrastructure but not for much-needed transit infrastructure. This wasn’t appealing to a fiscally conservative but service-dependent population. Smith also refused to release his donor list and called Nenshi a bully when he asked for it. It was clear that Smith had the interests of corporations and hockey team executives in mind over those of Calgarians.
Nenshi ran an emotional campaign, repeatedly calling for all Calgarians to vote because he cares about their voices and speaking at length about his deep connections to the city. As much as his emotional approach lacked substance, it showed that he was listening to Calgarians and cares about their concerns. This is what won the election for Nenshi. People knew how he would lead the city — with strong policy and a little too much attitude. People didn’t know how Smith would lead, especially after revelations of his monumental screw-up on a real estate deal leading to a million-dollar lawsuit. They went with the conservative choice, rather than the new option who presented hypocritical policies and misguided spending.
The same effect was seen throughout Calgary’s wards. In Ward 7, long-time councillor Druh Farrell was re-elected after campaigning on her proven success in council and experience representing her community. Her biggest competition came from Brent Alexander, who was an example of the brand of conservatism that Calgarians fell in love with through both Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the provincial Progressive Conservative party. He has extensive experience in the financial sector, which showed voters he would know how to manage the ward’s finances. But, true to the prudent approach to change that Calgarians displayed last night, Farrell was elected to continue her plans of making Calgary more resilient.
There were no dramatic upsets last night, only a few close races. In the end, Calgarians stayed true to style and went with the conservative choice by voting for a council that they knew what to expect from. In politics, the monster you know is always better than the one you don’t. Maybe you’re disappointed with the result, but it could have been much worse with a rookie council looking to change Calgary drastically.