The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

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Naheed Nenshi
Naheed Nenshi
Mayor
The City of Calgary
Naheed Nenshi  

Excerpts from speech delivered to the Conference:

What do we need to do in order to build community? How do we, as leaders, ensure that the people with whom we live and work every single day have the opportunity to build better communities? That really takes me to my fundamental philosophy of leadership. Itís quite simple really. It is to give work back to the people. To allow them to understand that they have the ability to make the changes in their communities that they seek.

I remember when I was on my (GGCLC) study tour four years ago, that one thing that stuck in my head was wondering what had happened to these communitiesí ability to make changes for themselves. It seemed like many people were waiting for someone else to come and help them with the problems in their communities.

I think that it is incredibly important that people realize again that they have the ability to make changes. So how do we, as leaders, reconcile the fact that we do have expertise with the fact that we need to listen to the true experts in the community, and to help them develop solutions that make sense for the whole community?

For example, I happen to love public transit. And amongst my 15,000 (City of Calgary) colleagues, there are lots of people who know a lot about public transit. We have network engineers and transportation engineers. We have people who are experts in route optimization and fare schedules. But you know what - weíre not the experts in public transit. You know who the expert on public transit is? Itís the person who takes the bus every day. They know when the system is working, when itís not working and they know how to make it better.

Our job is to make sure that everyone in the community lives up to the spirit of continuing to build sustainable communities. You donít have to be the mayor. You donít have to run for public office. . . . Every single one of us builds the community, and every single one of us has the opportunity to do that even better. And our job is to help our friends and our neighbours do just that. Thatís leadership and thatís how we build sustainable communities.

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