Bell: Danielle Smith slams NDP Nenshi as a man with 'no ideas'

Certain movers and shakers in Smith circles are not underestimating Nenshi. They just don’t believe most Albertans will back the Nenshi-led NDP.

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Premier Danielle Smith knows how to hit NDP leader Naheed Nenshi where it hurts.

She’s known Nenshi for decades, when he was a big-time university debater, and she knows how to get under his skin, knows what buttons to push.

Saying the former Calgary mayor isn’t the deep-thinker he portrays must rub him the wrong way.

“I’m disappointed because he says he likes to do politics in full sentences. I haven’t seen any full sentences out of him through the course of his leadership.

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“He’s got no ideas, no policies.”

You see that’s the knock on Nenshi.

Some of those politicians who don’t like Nenshi figure he is all hat and no cattle.

He trades in all these high-falutin’ phrases as if they were a kind of political poetry.

He intones all these noble sentiments and the people who like the sound of such fine words swoon at the sugar-filled syllables even if they often amount to nothing more than sweet nothings.

Let’s face it.

The former Calgary mayor and now Alberta NDP leader is a lot closer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau than, let’s say, former federal NDP leader Jack Layton.

Style over substance.

Certain movers and shakers in Smith circles are not underestimating Nenshi.

Why do a full-court press of ads against Nenshi if he wasn’t an opponent they have to take seriously?

They just don’t believe most Albertans will back the Nenshi-led NDP.

The man has high positive support with those who love his routine. But he has high negatives who really are on the other side of the fence.

His detractors are energized. They don’t think Nenshi’s 11 years as mayor of Calgary was living the dream.

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith wants the province to pull out of the federal government’s dental care plan by 2026. Smith speaks at a press conference, in Edmonton on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Photo by JASON FRANSON /THE CANADIAN PRESS

“I’m more than happy to debate the opposition leader on policy,” says Smith, sticking to the line she’s taking.

“He just doesn’t have anything to offer.”

The folks who hold NDP memberships believe Nenshi has plenty to offer.

They just turned the party over to Nenshi who never represented anything close to the NDP gospel even when the man in purple gave them a back-handed endorsement in the dying days of the last election.

On Thursday, Nenshi took to social media where his most true-believing followers live, the ones who bite back when you challenge their messiah.

As loyal readers know, UCP attack ads came out accusing Nenshi of being Trudeau’s choice for Alberta and being just another tax-and-spend Liberal.

It was back in an April 11 column of your scribbler when we knew Nenshi was running to be Alberta NDP leader and where there was the first mention of Smith and the UCP casting the former Calgary mayor as Trudeau’s choice for Alberta.

screen Nenshi
A screenshot from a UCP ad on YouTube. Photo by YouTube

It was almost as if the UCP were test-driving the new handle they were putting on Nenshi.

Nenshi called the UCP incompetent, dangerous and immoral.

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“Well, somebody who is Trudeau’s choice for Alberta might say that,” said Smith at the time, without uttering Nenshi’s name.

“I’m not here to be Trudeau’s choice for Alberta.”

We were told Nenshi was “not fussed” by Smith’s comments.

But Smith knew one thing. She had poked the bear. Nenshi has thin skin.

So now, he’s fussed.

“You know what, they are nothing if not predictable,” says Nenshi, firing back as a three-year battle begins where we have ringside seats.

Nenshi repeats his charge Smith’s UCP only know how to pick fights and waste money.

Nenshi
A screen capture of a video Naheed Nenshi posted on X. X

“Here they are picking a fight and wasting big bucks on ads.”

Well, they aren’t taxpayer bucks.

“What do you think they’re scared of?” asks Nenshi.

It’s not the first time he’s asked that question.

“They’re trying to define me for you but they can’t do it because you know me. I’ve been around and Lord knows no one has ever accused me of being quiet.”

Nenshi says in his 11 years as mayor of Calgary the city was consistently named one of the best cities in the world.

Nenshi, now as the newly-minted leader of the NDP, nicknamed the Nenshi Democratic party, will put his “record of public service” up against Smith “any day of the week and twice on Sundays.”

It’s not the first time he’s made that statement.

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Yes, Nenshi is talking tough.

“Let ’em,” he says.

“Let ’em pick their fights.

“Let ’em waste their money.

“Bring it on.”

The UCP brain trust had a quick reply for Nenshi.

OK.

[email protected]

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