Metro column: 2010 was a puzzle of political folly – Part 1 of 2
With the arrival of the Christmas and holiday break we’re given a chance to reflect on the past year to see how we got to where we are.
As 2010 comes to a close, today and next Friday I present some of the great things we witnessed this year at City Hall. I’ll also countdown my choices for biggest political mistakes in the past twelve months.
Mayor Dave Bronconnier started the craziness that would be 2010 when, on February 23 he announced he would not be seeking a fourth term as mayor. After a pretty stable nine year reign, things were about to change. Some thought for better, some feared for worse.
Bronconnier is a top city newsmaker for his nine years of service as mayor, and for starting the ball rolling on what would be one of the most unpredictable years in Calgary city hall history.
Once Bronconnier made his announcement, Ric McIver, the nine year alderman who became so good at opposing Bronconnier he earned the nickname Dr. No, immediately became the front runner in the race to replace him.
Even before Bronconnier’s declaration McIver was rumoured to have decided to take a chance at the mayor’s seat. He spent almost all of 2010 saying “I have no announcement to make today” when asked if he was going to run. It would take him until April 22 to make it official.
McIver’s journey is big news this year because the mayor’s chair was his to lose. And lose it he did. His campaign was solid and steady, never wavering. Until it was too late.
His coronation was a forgone conclusion as late as three months before the election, but his team’s stubbornness to react to what all Calgarians were noticing — the rise of Naheed Nenshi in the polls — was his eventual undoing. This ranks at number four on my list of city hall mistakes for 2010.
The third biggest city hall political mistake for 2010 has to be the event that bolstered the Nenshi campaign and vaulted him into contention. On September 23 police Chief Rick Hanson responded to questions from Nenshi directed at leading candidate Ric McIver hitting him for not asking tougher questions when approving the 2011 Calgary Police budget. Hanson tread where few civil servants dare by calling the math behind Nenshi’s questions “irresponsible.”
Calgarians and the media immediately took notice of what had been a Nenshi release getting little traction until then, saying “ya, why didn’t McIver ask tougher questions?” Suddenly Nenshi and the spars with McIver and Hanson were the headlines for an entire week at a critical time during the campaign. Nenshi could now legitimately claim he was part of a three way race.
Pick up the Boxing Day paper or check out metronews.ca/calgary for part 2 of DJ Kelly’s political newsmakers and mistakes of 2010.