Em­bat­tled Nen­shi says he’s con­fi­dent, not ar­ro­gant

Edmonton Sun - - COMMENT - Rick bell

CAL­GARY — Even many naysay­ers of Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi give him one “A” on the re­port card.

Un­for­tu­nately for His Wor­ship, the A is for “ar­ro­gance”.

At the end of a long day a prob­ing scrib­bler asks the mayor what he would say to those who think he’s ar­ro­gant.

Nen­shi fig­ures it’s a fair ques­tion.

Plenty of peo­ple do think he’s ar­ro­gant and aren’t shy speak­ing about it.

Nen­shi doesn’t sweat an an­swer.

To Nen­shi, he’s just stand­ing up for Cal­gar­i­ans against bul­lies and “en­trenched in­ter­ests”. He’s not ar­ro­gant at all. “I call that con­fi­dence, some peo­ple call it ar­ro­gance,” he said. Some in­deed. In two re­cent polls, the nose coun­ters found more folks didn’t like Nen­shi than liked him.

(A third poll put him in the lead in the Mon­day, Oct. 16 mayor’s race.)

It’s no sur­prise Nen­shi’s ri­val, Bill Smith, wants to make the elec­tion a ref­er­en­dum on Nen­shi.

Do Cal­gar­i­ans want four more years of Nen­shi or not?

Af­ter all, the high point of Smith’s cam­paign didn’t come when he spoke of big tax hikes, or stupid spend­ing, or how he promised to work well with city coun­cil­lors.

It came when Smith said Nen­shi doesn’t lis­ten to ad­vice, keep his prom­ises, learn from mis­takes, work well with oth­ers and still thinks he’s the smartest per­son in any room.

Nen­shi says he’s not ar­ro­gant. He’s con­fi­dent, re­mem­ber? Want an­other word? “Scrappy”.

“I’ll re­mind you, here in Cal­gary, we’ve al­ways liked scrappy,” says Nen­shi.

“Peter Lougheed was scrappy. Ralph Klein was scrappy. We like our hockey play­ers scrappy. Theo Fleury’s pretty scrappy.”

Nen­shi feels if scrappy isn’t a bad thing for Lougheed, Ralph or Theo, it shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing for Nen­shi.

Nen­shi goes back to how he’s con­fi­dent rather than ar­ro­gant.

“I cer­tainly don’t think I’m any more con­fi­dent than Ja­son Ken­ney,” says the mayor.

“I don’t think I’m any more con­fi­dent than Prime Min­is­ter Harper (was).”

But con­fi­dent isn’t ar­ro­gant.

“That’s me. The thing about me peo­ple know is I’m me,” says Nen­shi, who of­ten uses the word “I” and “me”.

“For seven years I’ve said if I had an­other face I wouldn’t start with this one. Peo­ple ac­tu­ally see ev­ery­thing about me, warts and all.”

Two years af­ter the 2010 elec­tion, 88% of Cal­gar­i­ans gave a thumbs-up to Nen­shi. Those were the days.

Through the lens of Nen­shi, Nen­shi is quite the hum­ble soul.

“We’re go­ing to screw up from time to time and when we screw up we’ll ad­mit it, we’ll take our lumps, we’ll ask for for­give­ness,” he said.

Ad­mit screw-ups? Ask for for­give­ness? When did that hap­pen?

At the fi­nal can­di­dates-for­mayor drone­fest Tues­day, hope­ful Ja­son Achtymichuk, aka the artist known as Ja­son Gogo, said Nen­shi sug­gested those who op­pose him and “his ar­ro­gance and ego” are hate­ful or racists.

Gogo also called the mayor vain.

On Face­book, Nen­shi did say forces who don’t want an in­clu­sive city and sup­port his op­po­nents are get­ting those who might be racists or haters out to vote.

At the drone­fest, he spoke through the boo­ing, telling the au­di­ence he was just say­ing there was an in­crease in hate­ful lan­guage and he wanted to name it and shame it. He scored lots of ap­plause. Later, Nen­shi said he re­ceived an enor­mous amount of hugs and an enor­mous amount of un­de­cided peo­ple who de­cided to vote for him.

“That feels good,” he said.

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