Politicians everywhere have a lot to learn from the flood disaster in Alberta. Hopefully there will be a long term benefit for any part of the world where floods are a recurring problem. How do we build and develop in a more sensible way that minimizes risk? Obviously that is something that early settlers across the prairies would love to have known when they built cities like Winnipeg on a perfect flood plain.
But when I say ‘lessons for politicians’ I’m thinking more about two people in particular, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary. Mayor Nenshi showed up at the Stampeders home opener and got a bigger cheer than any of the football players. Sam Katz can only dream about such a reception when he goes to a Bomber game.
At the height of the crisis, when Calgary’s downtown core was mostly empty except for soldiers, the mayor was cool, calm and collected and giving out precise information that was always useful. Similarly, Premier Redford took command from the get go and effectively mobilized the resources that were needed. The opposition wisely kept their mouths shut and pitched in to help.
It was interesting that Stephen Harper and company played a largely secondary role, especially when you consider that the Prime Minister represents a Calgary riding in parliament. Jason Kenney, the minister of immigration got in front the of the TV cameras quite a bit, but his message was mostly ‘send the bills to Ottawa, and we’ll pay our share eventually’.
It was an impressive show by just about everyone, especially the neighbours all across southern Alberta. The nightmare for those who have suffered losses is far from over. Premier Redford and her finance minister will have an interesting time figuring out their next budget. But it could have been a lot worse were it not for some very strong leadership.
I’m Roger Currie