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Naheed Nenshi on his vote for the 2023 Alberta election



If you are a hyper-partisan on either side of the Alberta election, you may not want to read this column. But I thought I would share my thought process on how I’m going to vote this Monday.

It may be helpful to read two previous columns as well: one where I discuss Danielle Smith’s somewhat unique approach to politics and life, and one where I discuss what people who have always voted Conservative are facing in this election.

And a whole bunch of caveats. I’ve never done this before. , and I take it very seriously. It’s not because it brings out the colour of my eyes – well not just because it brings out the colour of my eyes. Purple is a combination of red and blue and I wear it to remind myself and others that we are not defined by our political tribe but by our common humanity.

For me, this means not only being in the political centre, but also that I need to engage with politics and elections fluidly and based on the context of the moment, as well as who is running. I have voted for at least four different parties provincially and federally, and for municipal candidates all over the ideological map. And this time, I’m voting NDP.

I’m very cheap, and I hate debt. (I’m proud that Calgary had the lowest residential property taxes in Canada in my tenure as mayor and that we ran a surplus every year). But I also believe in the need to invest in the things that give people a hand up, and that help everyone live a decent, dignified, prosperous life. Chief amongst these are an excellent public education system, access to great health care, and strong and effective anti-poverty and mental health strategies.

Like almost all Albertans, I also believe that climate change is a critical problem, and that many solutions lie in the Canadian energy sector. I am very proud of our resource industry, and I believe that access to clean, safe, and affordable energy is one of the most powerful poverty-fighting tools we have. Canada can make huge contributions to reducing global emissions by displacing coal with liquified natural gas around the world and we need to be much better at building export infrastructure including pipelines.

In all of this, I don’t think the United Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party would disagree with much of what I wrote here (though it’s not clear if the UCP rank-and-file have heard Smith say climate change is real and she would just go a bit slower than Notley). Indeed, their stated policy on most of these items is similar, with a few differences: the NDP would raise taxes on big business from the lowest in Canada to … the lowest in Canada. The UCP would cut personal income taxes and increase the reliance in the budget on oil and gas revenues.

UCP Leader Danielle Smith has spoken favourably of the disastrous school curriculum her predecessor, Jason Kenney, attempted to introduce, and hasn’t said a word about it in the election. She has promised to continue her government’s use of private surgical delivery, despite ample evidence that it doesn’t actually work to lower costs or surgical wait times.


Notley, for her part, has run a cautious campaign, shying away from major policy pronouncements, and saying that her top characteristic is that she is honest and will stop the endless drama of the UCP government.

Albertans also have a rare opportunity. For the first time in modern history, two people who have both already been premier are running for the job. Truth be told, from my perspective, neither was particularly great at the job.

I struggled with Notley’s government over many issues, from its amateurish stumbling on the electricity file to their massive fumble that cost Calgary the 2026 Olympics. While I must take some blame for that, and the federal government massively mishandled it, the Notley government wavered between disinterest and disdain, ultimately dooming the project.

Now Calgary must find the money to revamp our winter sports facilities, without an Olympics at the end. (Ironically, this was mainly a result of how much Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau couldn’t stand each other, and their staff could not abide giving the other a victory. I was in the room for some of this, and I always smile when I hear conservatives talk about the Notley-Trudeau alliance, having seen the truth).

Mostly though. I saw the Notley years as ones of lost opportunity. For an NDP government, they were remarkably cautious. They inherited a massive global recession and were likely too scared (or just too poor) to make major changes in housing or mental health or empowering cities. They did make major strides on child poverty, cutting it in half, but this had much to do with the federal government and the Child Tax Benefit.

I must give Notley credit for one big thing, though. Conservative governments over a half century have failed to build even one mile of new oil pipeline to tidewater. The Trans Mountain Expansion would not have happened if not for Notley’s ferocious advocacy over a skeptical Trudeau and the ridiculous antics of BC NDP Premier John Horgan, who was intent on scaring away investment, even if he had no power to stop the pipeline. Do I wish TMX had been built with private capital instead of by the federal government? Absolutely. But after Horgan successfully ran off the private owner, this was the only path forward and it would not have happened without Notley.

However, despite all her faults, Notley has nothing on the UCP government that followed. Jason Kenney and Danielle Smith have never really had jobs outside of government, lobbying and media, and neither had really run anything. And it showed. From defunding the police to betting on a Trump victory by giving a giant corporation $1.4 billion with no risk protection for the taxpayer, from attempting to implement a right-wing American curriculum that appeared to have evidence of plagiarism to breaking the ambulance system. From picking a fight with Netflix over a Bigfoot cartoon to opening up way too soon during the pandemic (the Best Summer Ever was not so much), the UCP government stumbled and bumbled from one error to another. What other government would have two successive justice ministers both in trouble with the law society?

Enter Danielle Smith. She has been even more profligate in her spending, with no sign of fiscal discipline. She tabled the highest-spending budget in Alberta history, with nothing special to show for it, and reversed a decades-long policy of reducing our reliance on oil and gas revenues. At today’s oil prices, that means the budget will come in at a deficit unless there are massive cuts to services.


So for many Albertans, this election comes down to two issues: competence and trust. Notley wins cleanly on both.

Perhaps even more important is a question of values.

Smith has been found guilty by the Ethics Commissioner of violating the Conflict of Interest Act after only seven months on the job, and she says and does bizarre things seemingly every day. (I detail much of this here). According to the Ethics Commissioner, she attempted to help a man well-known for his vile comments (including that the 2013 Alberta floods were caused by gay people) escape charges of incitement, even while he was leading a political party opposed to her. Either she didn’t know who she was talking to (showing a shocking ignorance) or didn’t care (a shocking indifference). In either case, she displayed a shocking lack of judgment.

She tells us not to believe things she says, even things she and her candidates said in the past weeks. Most troubling, it took her three days to condemn a candidate who compared having trans children in schools to having feces in a batch of cookies. Trans children have very high rates of suicide and self-harm compared to other kids, and this kind of behaviour puts them in danger. Smith first said the candidate wouldn’t sit in caucus, then said she would consider reinstating the candidate if she was really, really sorry, then said her decision to exclude was final.)

She has also declined to condemn candidates who echoed Putin talking points on the war in Ukraine (something she herself did before remembering she has Ukrainian ancestry and, more important, that Alberta is home to one of the largest Ukrainian diasporas in the world.)

If you need to focus group and poll your response on basic human rights and saving lives before finally doing the right thing, or doing nothing, it’s fair to question your leadership.

I truly believe Smith is an existential threat to our province. There’s never been anyone like her in power in Alberta before. We simply have no idea what she will do as premier, and that scares me more than a few years of a potentially not-great NDP government.

If you are a young person, or you have young people in your life, this is the whole deal. We must build a province where young people feel like they belong, and where they can build the best lives for themselves, not one where they are scared what government might do next to them, their family, and their friends.


So on this front, it’s clearly Notley who passes the Ralph Klein test: even when you disagree with her, you get the sense she’s essentially a decent person who is trying to do the right thing. The same simply can’t be said about Smith and the people she chooses to surround herself with.

Not many Albertans vote like I do. For many of us, politics is a tribal game. And that tribe has been more often than not, a Conservative one (Conservative parties under different names have ruled Alberta for all but 4 of the last 88 years). So, it’s very hard for Conservative voters to jump to the NDP. Does this mean they are New Democrats now? Have they become socialists forever?

Notley and her supporters have a smart response to this: consider your vote a loan. It doesn’t mean you have to vote NDP forever, but it does mean that the NDP is less risky than the UCP for the next four years. In that time, you can give the NDP a chance or work to reform the UCP back to its Progressive Conservative roots.

Indeed, I would go further. Every political party needs to consider every vote only a loan. For 11 years, I tried to get up every morning, put on my pants and go to work to continue to earn people’s trust and support every single day, simply by trying to make life better for them. The UCP seems to have forgotten that basic lesson, focusing more on firing up their base and sowing division and anger, hoping that will keep them in power.

So, I’m lending my vote to Rachel Notley and the NDP this time. I’ll watch them carefully, supporting when needed and criticizing when warranted, as I will do with the UCP if they win.

But ultimately, I’m voting not for some mythical Alberta of the past, and not out of fear or anger. I’m voting because I love this place, because I stand for dignity and prosperity for all, because I want young people to be proud of where they live and because I know Alberta can be even better.

Oh, and there’s always another Olympics waiting for our bid!

Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi wrote this opinion column for CTV News



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Speculation Grows Around Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro as Potential Running Mate for Kamala Harris



With President Biden ending his re-election bid, there’s growing chatter that Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro could be a potential running mate for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why it matters: Shapiro, who’s positioned himself as a moderate Democrat, has many advantages for a national ticket, including representing a pivotal swing state that former President Trump’s campaign has indicated will be central to their campaign strategy.

The former state lawmaker and attorney general has decades of political experience, and some swing voters view Shapiro as Democrats’ next rising star.

The big picture: Shapiro is among several Democratic governors getting attention for the VP spot, as well as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Some Democratic officials and operatives have even floated Shapiro’s name as a presidential contender should delegates and party members decide Harris isn’t the strongest opponent to take on Trump. As of Sunday, no major Democratic lawmaker had indicated their intention to challenge Harris for the party’s nomination.

Reality check: Democrats are unlikely to leapfrog Harris in favour of another candidate for several reasons — including the millions of dollars held in the Biden-Harris war chest that could easily be given to her, but not to any other potential candidate.

Catch up quick: President Biden announced in a letter posted on his X account Sunday he’s stepping aside as the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2024 presidential contest and endorsing Harris.

Biden, who has been in Rehoboth, Delaware, since last week recovering from COVID-19, faced intense pressure to withdraw from the race following his shaky debate performance on June 27 against Trump. Harris is emerging as the leading contender weeks before the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19, but some advisers worry the VP’s record may not outweigh her years-long battle with public image and low favorability ratings, Axios’ Avery Lotz reports.

What they’re saying: “I will do everything I can to help elect Kamala Harris as the 47th President of the United States,” Shapiro said in a post on X Sunday.

“I’ve known Kamala Harris for nearly two decades — we’ve both been prosecutors, we’ve both stood up for the rule of law, we’ve both fought for the people and delivered results,” Shapiro wrote in a statement. “She has served this country honorably as Vice President and she is ready to be President.” When speculation was swirling before Biden stepped aside, Shapiro said he was committed to staying put as Pennsylvania governor.

His spokesperson Manuel Bonder told Axios earlier this month that any scenario of the governor replacing Biden or becoming Harris’ VP pick was “baseless speculation” and a “distraction” that doesn’t help Democrats “defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box.”

Zoom in: Shapiro, a first-term governor, has navigated the state’s divided government and could appeal to constituents in Philadelphia’s purple suburbs.

Shapiro has been outspoken about the ongoing war in Gaza and was credited for his leadership in getting I-95 reopened in less than two weeks after a deadly collapse.

Between the lines: St. Joseph’s professor emeritus and political commentator Randall Miller tells Axios that Shapiro is better off remaining at the helm in Pennsylvania and positioning himself to run in the next cycle. He could decimate future political prospects by joining a potentially “sinking ship.” “He’s very independent, very shrewd,” Miller said. “He has a controlled, directed ambition. He doesn’t need to do it.”

What’s next: Harris will not automatically pick up Biden’s delegates, meaning her road ahead has to focus on accumulating a majority at the DNC.

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Kamala Harris: A California Political Odyssey



SACRAMENTO, California — Understanding Vice President Kamala Harris’s political journey requires tracing her roots back to California. This backstory gains renewed significance amid the Democratic Party’s election-year turmoil, with increasing calls for President Joe Biden to step aside and discussions about Harris’s potential to secure the party’s backing and defeat Donald Trump in a presidential race.

Pressure on Biden intensified this week when California Rep. Adam Schiff, a close ally of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, publicly suggested it was time for Biden to “pass the torch.”

The Rise of Kamala Harris

California is where Harris’s political journey began, leading to her historic election as the first Black, Asian American, and female vice president. It’s also where she developed her political acumen and first encountered the critiques that continue to follow her.

“There’s the Kamala Harris people think they know and now there’s the one they will get to know in an entirely different way,” said Brian Brokaw, a former adviser to Harris based in Sacramento.

For those who have followed Harris’s career from her early days as San Francisco district attorney to her tenure as state attorney general, here are seven key insights that highlight her trajectory and her impact on the national stage.

1. Early Career Boost from a San Francisco Kingmaker

Harris’s political rise paralleled that of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a prominent Biden surrogate and potential future presidential contender. Both Harris and Newsom received early career support from Willie Brown, a former California Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor. Brown, who dated Harris in the mid-1990s, appointed her and Newsom to key city boards, giving them footholds in San Francisco politics.

Harris and Newsom also tapped into the same networks of Bay Area wealth and enlisted the same consulting firm for their statewide campaigns. However, Newsom has maintained closer ties to area power players like Pelosi and the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

2. The Death Penalty Stance That Shaped Her Career

Harris’s decision not to seek the death penalty for the killer of San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza in 2004, just months into her tenure as district attorney, was a defining moment. While consistent with her campaign stance against capital punishment, the timing of her announcement was politically risky and drew significant backlash, including a public rebuke from Feinstein at Espinoza’s funeral.

This episode has been a recurring issue in Harris’s political career, resurfacing during her 2020 presidential bid and likely to be used against her in future campaigns.

3. A Different Legislative Approach

Unlike Biden, who is known for his legislative deal-making, Harris has shown less enthusiasm for engaging in legislative battles. During her tenure as California attorney general, she avoided the Capitol debates on police accountability measures, focusing instead on policies she could implement independently, such as mandating body cameras for special agents and creating an online criminal justice portal.

However, she has championed specific legislative priorities, such as anti-truancy measures and efforts to combat maternal mortality, especially among Black women.

4. Limited Experience Running Against Republicans

Harris’s electoral challenges have rarely come from Republicans, particularly in federal races. Her most significant contest was her first race for California attorney general in 2010, a close battle against moderate Republican Steve Cooley, which she won after a last-minute surge.

Her subsequent races, including her 2016 Senate campaign, were against fellow Democrats, giving her limited experience in the kind of partisan battles that characterize today’s political landscape.

5. Tackling Student Debt

As California attorney general, Harris took on for-profit colleges like Corinthian Colleges, accusing them of misleading students and saddling them with unsustainable debt. This work laid the foundation for the Biden administration’s student loan relief efforts, with Harris playing a key role in announcing significant debt cancellations for former Corinthian students.

6. Suing Fossil Fuel Companies

Harris frequently sued fossil fuel companies during her tenure as attorney general, securing significant settlements and launching investigations into their practices. Her stance against fracking, which drew criticism from then-President Trump during the 2020 campaign, highlighted her environmental priorities but also created a conflict with Biden’s more moderate approach to energy policy.

7. A Bicoastal Vice President

Though she began her political career in the Bay Area, Harris has since become a resident of Los Angeles’s affluent Brentwood neighborhood. She regularly returns to California, balancing her duties as vice president with visits to her home state, where she maintains strong connections to Democratic donors and supporters.

Looking Ahead

As the political landscape shifts, Harris’s California roots and her experiences will continue to shape her approach and influence her political future. Whether she steps up to lead the Democratic Party in a presidential race or continues to support Biden’s administration, Harris’s journey from San Francisco to the White House remains a critical narrative in understanding her role on the national stage

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Is Ivanka Trump plotting a return to politics



If you’re a woman freaking out about the imminent possibility of another Trump term, don’t despair quite yet. Yes, Project 2025 is hoping to turn the US into a Christian nationalist country. Yes, JD Vance, Donald Trump’s running partner, has been primed for the job by Peter Thiel, a man who has mused that women having the vote is problematic. Yes, experts are raising the alarm that “a Trump-Vance administration will be the most dangerous administration for abortion and reproductive freedom in this country’s history.” But it’s not all doom and gloom: there may well be a beacon of light and female liberation coming into the White House as well. Signs suggest Ivanka Trump is considering a return to politics. Ladies and gentlewomen, the patron saint of female empowerment may selflessly serve us once again!

To be clear: the younger Trump hasn’t explicitly said that she’s interested in another go at being Daddy’s special adviser. In fact, she’s spent the last few years getting as far away from politics as possible. A renaissance woman, Trump has sold everything from handbags to shoes to real estate – but her most valuable product has always been herself. The former first daughter has always been very careful about protecting her personal brand. And, for a while, that meant staying well clear of her father.

With Donald Trump now formally the nominee, it can be hard to remember just how bad things looked for the former president a couple of years ago. After an underwhelming performance by GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, a lot of Trump’s former acolytes started turning on him. High-profile Republicans complained that Trump was a drag on the party. Even the New York Post, once Trump’s personal Pravda, thought he was a joke: “TRUMPTY DUMPTY”, a post-midterm front page crowed. And then, of course, there were Trump’s mountains of legal problems. A lot of people wrote Trump off.

Ivanka was noticeably not by her father’s side during his hours of need. The moment that Donald got kicked out of the White House, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, followed him to Florida but kept a safe distance from the political goings on at Mar-a-Lago. Can’t have an insurrection ruining one’s image, after all.

A company called College Hunks Hauling Junk helped them clear out their DC mansion and the pair decamped to Miami’s “Billionaire Bunker”. They didn’t go empty-handed, of course. The couple reported between $172m and $640m in outside income while working in the White House and Saudi Arabia gave Kushner’s private equity firm $2bn to invest. Enough to keep them busy for a while.

For a long time, Javanka stayed fairly under the radar. Ivanka Trump would pop up in headlines now and again in Fun-loving Mother and Caring Philanthropist mode. Behold, a flattering headline about Ivanka helping deploy medical supplies and meals to Ukraine! Look: here’s an Instagram slideshow of the whole family skiing! Now here’s a fun picture of the Javanka family at the flashy Ambani wedding!

A cynic might say these carefully curated images were designed to humanize Trump and erase her messy political past. Aiding this was a consistent drip-drip of mysterious sources telling the press that Javanka had no desire whatsoever to return to politics. Even this year, when Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, media “sources” kept insisting that the former first daughter wanted nothing to do with the White House. “She is very happy, living her best life,” a source told People in March. “She left politics totally in the rearview mirror and so this time around, even if her dad is the leading Republican candidate, she basically doesn’t care. She told him when he said he was going to run again that she didn’t want to be involved.”

Mary Trump, the woman who has made a career out of being Donald Trump’s disgruntled niece after a legal battle over her inheritance, has been blunt about why Ivanka seems to have retreated from politics. “I think Ivanka made very clear that she doesn’t get enough out of [her relationship with her father] any more,” Mary Trump told CNN at the end of May. “She’s barely been heard from for months; she could not be bothered to show up at [her father’s] trial [over falsifying business records].”

As the election inches closer, however, Ivanka seems to have reassessed the value of her relationship with her father. In early May, the media outlet Puck reported that she was “warming to the idea of trying to be helpful again … She’s not like ‘Hell no’ any more”. A similar report from Business Insider soon followed: according to a “friend of Ivanka”, the entrepreneur wasn’t ruling politics out. A spokesperson for the couple told Puck that this was all nonsense but rumours of a political comeback kept mounting.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Ivanka jumped back into the spotlight with an appearance on Lex Fridman’s highly influential podcast. (Fridman has more than 4 million subscribers on YouTube.) In this she opened up about how working at the White House was “the most extraordinary growth experience of my life” and how privileged she was to have been asked by her father to help so many people. During the conversation, she also carefully recapped some of (what’s she’s claimed as) her key achievements in the White House, such as boosting the child tax credit. It wasn’t so much an interview as it was a hype project by a friend. It felt lot like it was teasing Trump’s return to political life should her dad be re-elected.

So, after years in the Floridian wilderness, has the Maga Princess officially returned to the family fold? It’s a tad too early to tell but it increasingly looks that way. As one would expect, Trump has spent the last few days close to her father after the attempt on his life: she’s very much thrown herself into the role of doting daughter again.

And while Ivanka has been absent from the Republican national convention so far, she and Jared are expected to be at Donald’s side on Thursday when he formally accepts the party’s nomination. And if that happens and images of Ivanka standing next to her father hit the headlines, it won’t just be a celebratory photoshoot – it’ll be a preview of Trump’s second term.



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