Politicians can get into snits now again but I’ve never seen anything quite like what I experienced with the Mayor of Calgary as he visited Ottawa.
I’ve met Naheed Nenshi in passing a couple of times but I can’t say we know each other. Each time I’ve met him, I’ve been polite and respectful.
I posted a video of the speech Nenshi gave in Ottawa because I think he needs to be heard. Click here to watch the speech.
I was impressed with his full on defence of the oil industry and found him warm, funny, engaging but more importantly, I could tell he meant what he said. I’ve been at this long enough to know when politicians are being sincere.
Nenshi believes in Alberta oil. He spoke about how Canadian oil meets tough environmental and labour standards, how it doesn’t come from some of the nastier places on earth and, he may not like this, but it was like hearing a left wing Ezra give the Ethical Oil argument!
That’s fascinating because in Central and Eastern Canada, almost all progressives have decided that Canadian oil is dirty and pipelines are bad.
Remember Denis Coderre and the Montreal area mayors immediately saying “no” to Energy East? Montreal used to have a refinery which was pushed out by progressive politicians who didn’t want the oil industry or the jobs that went with it in their city. Then there’s Trudeau’s stance and his top advisor Gerry Butts who wants a zero carbon economy.
So Nenshi’s speech impressed me. I was tweeting as much as he spoke and I wondered, is this the man that can overcome the objections of the progressive side?
In the scrum afterwards I tried to ask him exactly that. A complimentary, respectful question that I never got to ask because he threw a hissy fit.
I’ve covered prime ministers, premiers, presidents and the Queen. I’ve stumped the best of them and have asked hostile questions of hostile politicians but NEVER in all my time as a journalist have I been treated like that.
Is it due to Ezra? I may not know Mayor Nenshi but he knows Ezra. They’ve been frenenies for nearly 25 years so maybe he was taking his anger for Ezra out on me.
In any case, he’s right - this shouldn’t be a left/right issue but it has become one. The left in Canada has decided we should say “no” to the energy industry and do without oil but, as Nenshi said, leaving it in the ground is not a rational strategy.
So I’m asking Mayor Nenshi to rise to the occasion, as a proud progressive and lefty Mayor, convince your own side of your own argument. Mostly, I agree with what you said but more Canadians on your side of the political aisle, need to hear that argument.
Are you up to that challenge mayor?
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