Embattled Nenshi says he’s confident, not arrogant
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.