Given recent headlines, it is understandable that Canadians are not feeling very enthusiastic about our politicians. But I think it is useful to stop and remember that the large majority of politicians work hard for the public interest.
This commitment to public service is exemplified by Edmonton’s mayor, Stephen Mandel, who announced this week that, after nine years in his role, he will not be seeking re-election. Prior to entering politics, Mandel was a successful businessman with a strong record of volunteerism in the community. He clearly did not enter politics for financial advantage, as someone with his drive and leadership abilities would have undoubtedly continued to succeed in the private sector. Instead, Mandel saw an opportunity to improve the city that he loves, and he seized that opportunity.
Mayor Mandel’s accomplishments are too many to list, but a sample of projects that will forever change Edmonton include the expansion and improvement of transit service, the construction of a new downtown arena, and the City Centre Redevelopment Plan. He also created the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts, held at the Francis Winspear Centre, and has been a tireless advocate for Edmonton’s vibrant and internationally-recognized arts and culture community. Mayor Mandel has been an equally effective advocate, alongside Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, for the role of cities in making Canada a happier, healthier, and more productive country.
Mandel’s record honours public service and I am truly grateful for his commitment to Edmonton, to Alberta, and to Canada. He didn’t have to run for elected office, but he did. And we are all lucky that he chose that path.
In order to improve the Canadian public’s trust and confidence in politicians, we must encourage more people like Stephen Mandel to bring their talents, energies, and commitments to public service.
Note: I would also direct readers to a similar and excellent piece in today’s Globe and Mail by Jeffrey Simpson here. I started to write this last night and was unaware of Jeffrey’s great work!