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Calgary mayor lures easterners to 'Wall Street' of the West

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi leads the city's Gay Pride parade on Sept. 4, 2011.

Todd Korol for The Globea and Mail/Todd Korol for The Globea and Mail

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is venturing east to sell his city as the best place to live and invest in Canada (hello, Toronto).

The new mayor – he was just elected last year – will be in Ottawa next Thursday as part of his four-city sales tour. He's in town for a breakfast speech to The Economic Club of Canada. And he'll be talking about the aggressive marketing campaign – Calgary: Be Part of the Energy – he has launched, trying to sell the city to young, up-and-coming professional easterners. He's painting Calgary as a place that's more than oil, gas and horses.

In a video on the campaign's website, the mayor says he wants young people to think of Calgary as "their Wall Street. … The place where they can be at the very top of their profession."

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"Calgary is now through its adolescence," he says. "We are ready to take our place on the world stage and I think that is really exciting," he says. "We've gone from a one-horse town where you roll up the sidewalks at 5 o'clock to a place that take its spot with the great cities of the world."

More than that – he says that Calgary is becoming a global city for finance and there are "clusters" of finance investment that have made the economy more resilient and vibrant.

Mr. Nenshi, a young politician, has attracted excitement and attention for his social-media skills as well as being the first Calgary mayor to lead the Gay Pride parade.

On this trip east, he will also visit Montreal, Halifax and Toronto – where the Mayor Rob Ford is trying to figure out not how to make the city more vibrant and attractive but how to cut millions of dollars from services to get the budget under control.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nenshi will not be meeting with federal politicians when he's in Ottawa. He doesn't have to – Alberta is dominated by Tories. Stephen Harper represents a Calgary riding.

The West doesn't want in any more. It is in.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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