Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi becomes Canada’s first Muslim mayor

News Agencies – October 19, 2010

A grassroots campaign driven by volunteers has delivered Canada its first Muslim mayor – Mr. Nenshi, who scored a staggering win in Calgary’s mayor’s race October 18, 2010. Nenshi defeated two better-funded candidates, including one backed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign team, and saw his support surge in the final few weeks. The 38-year-old Mr. Nenshi survived a smear campaign and a telephone failure in the crucial final days and hours, before running away with what was to be a close vote. His candidacy was branded the “Purple Revolution,” named for his campaign colour and driven by a broad demographic that included strong youth support. “Today Calgary is a different place than it was yesterday. A better place,” Mr. Nenshi said in a speech to his supporters.Voter turnout was high, with early returns suggesting it could reach 50 per cent, well higher than the 33 per cent turnout in 2007.
Mr. Nenshi’s parents emigrated to Canada from Tanzania when his mother, Nury Nenshi, was pregnant with Naheed. They settled in Toronto before moving to Calgary, where Naheed grew up. He attended Harvard University, and at 22 was hired by McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s top consulting firms. After about eight years at the company, he returned to Calgary to be with his ailing father. He has since worked for the United Nations, started his own business, and became a professor at Mount Royal University.