Here in Calgary we too have purple cows…and have recently become a purple cowtown with the election of the purple prince, Naheed Nenshi.
To begin – I am a supporter of Naheed. I voted for him (after my candidate bowed out) and I’m quite happy he won as he was always my second choice. I’m quite excited about the vision and direction he seeks to bring to city council – alongside a number of great returning and new alderman. I’ve appreciated Nenshi’s accessibility and humour during the campaign and I have to admit that I’m filled with “western alienated pride” that so many folks in T.O. are excited about our new Mayor. However, I can’t help but think the news coverage has been a bit revisionist and inflated.
Nenshi – for me and for many others who voted him – didn’t necessarily represent a sea change in the image of Calgary…but rather a candidate that took the voter/citizen seriously and offered clear ideas, plans and objectives. It was a radical transformation of policy and accountability…not image. Much has been made of Nenshi’s Muslim heritage (the first Muslim mayor of a major city), of his ethnicity/race (dark skinned Tanzanian) and of his social media prowess (Twitter me crazy). BUT – truthfully, much of this never crossed my mind – nor, in my opinion, the minds of most Nenshi voters.
This wasn’t some affirmative action vote. It wasn’t a “let’s show those Vancouverites, Montrealers, and Torontoians how we roll in Calgary” movement. Other major media outlets have subtly tried to spin our story into their story. The story of a civic populace engaged, questioning, motivated and active into a story of “those Calgary hillbillies are just trying to show us up.” The reality of Nenshi’s minority status isn’t inconsequential – just not the primary (nor secondary) reason he was elected.
Who cares if people think we’re cowtown? Or a “bit too WASPy for their liking”? We didn’t vote someone in simply to respond to out of town critics. We elected Nenshi because of local needs, a local idea deficit and our local dreams – of which he was/is the best candidate to lead us through these challenges.
So yes – the media dubbed “Purple/Violet Revolution” has drawn big attention to Calgary and we’ve become the Purple Cow in Canada. Know we know everyone is watching…but ultimately, the decisions we make need to meet the needs & hopes right here – on our own ranch – not someone else’s quarter-acre.