Nenshi, Telekinesis, And Anti-Oil 

September 8th, 2013 | R. Rados 

Two men have played an integral role in Naheed Nenshi's campaigns and leadership since 2010. Both are strategists and campaign managers who have acted, or continue to act, as chiefs of staff. One has a known history of unethical practices, while the other has engaged in bizarre behaviour and has connections to a strange group that opposes the Alberta oil sands. Both men raise serious questions that require serious answers. 

Delving into the world of weird and unsophisticated pseudo-science, we find a man who has dabbled in telekinesis and participated in bizarre competitions involving people who think they can move objects with their minds. That man is Chima Nkemdirim, better known as Naheed Nenshi's chief of staff. 

Nkemdirim was at Nenshi's side when he won Calgary's mayoralty and he might hope to be by Justin Trudeau's side if the Liberal leader becomes Prime Minister. Before all of this, Nkemdirim led a team from the "Capitalist Energy Sector" to the 2008 World Telekinesis Competition. Like his big daddy, Nkemdirim also fancies Twitter and seems to connect with groups that oppose Alberta's oil sands. 

If you want to brush off all this telekinesis stuff as some gag or satire, don't rush to that conclusion just yet. The telekinesis competitions are real. They attract some serious competitors every year who compete to "remotely influence the behavior of a candle". The team to make the candle's wax drip onto the opposing team's side of the game board wins. This exciting video from the last few minutes of a competition shows how it's done. What you see in the video is the game board with a candle in the centre. Some other photos can be seen here to complement your experience. 

These enigmatic telekinesis competitions that Nkemdirim has participated in belong to what is known as the Noxious Sector Projects. It's a group of like-minded individuals and artists based in Seattle and Canada. They sometimes come together as a "collective" to do crazy things, like haunt Harper. At their official website, visitors can actually find an event called "Haunting Harper". The event was held in April of 2012 and sought to impose the psychic presence of its participants on Harper's spectral will. You can't make this stuff up. 

The official Noxious Sector website states: 

We believe in the power of united minds, brought together to impose our psychic presence on Harper's spectral will. We believe that people have the mental power to make an impact -- and we want to test this belief in as large scale a way as possible.

Noxious Sector's official Facebook page says the group is dedicated to the exploration of alternative cognitive function. A quick peek at some of the postings by group members and followers will give you a hint of how serious some of them are. 

Whether Mr. Nkemdirim takes any of this seriously is up for debate, but even if he doesn't, Canadians might want to know why he would associate himself with such a strange group. They might also want to know whether Naheed Nenshi is aware of the group's obvious contempt for Alberta's oil sands. Here is a screen shot of Noxious Sector's artist statement about an exhibit that criticizes and condemns the Athabasca oil sands. The end of the statement makes a final condemnation by saying,  "This is the anticipation of a moment where humor quickly turns to horror, and horror reveals itself as the making ready of the next environmental disaster, in the exuberant parlance of economic progress."

It may or may not be a coincidence that Nkemdirim is associated with a group that opposes the oil sands and that Naheed Nenshi has recently come under fire for sending Calgary's tax dollars to The Pembina Institute, which is a well-known environmental advocacy group that opposes the Alberta oil sands. Since Nenshi has been mayor, Calgary has paid The Pembina Institute over $300,000 in fees.

Calgary's economy depends heavily on the oil industry and the Alberta oil sands. It seems antithetical for the city's mayor and his colleagues to support groups that oppose the entire industry. However, these connections fit perfectly into a growing picture that paints Naheed Nenshi as a man with his own agenda. 

The integrity of Naheed Nenshi becomes even more questionable when we look at his former campaign strategist, Stephen Carter. He may not believe in telekinesis and pseudoscience, but Carter's past raises other questions about the people Nenshi chooses to associate with.

Carter, who served as Alison Redford's campaign manager, came under fire during a brief stint as an employee of the Wildrose Party when he made derogatory tweets about the ethnicity of Ed Stelmach. Unimpressed with the self-serving strategist's deplorable behaviour, the Wildrose chose to part ways with Carter. Shortly after, Carter was hired by a lawyer with big ambitions. Alison Redford wanted to become the leader of Alberta's reigning Progressive Conservatives. To get the job done, she added Stephen Carter to her campaign and within weeks she defeated Gary Mar for the top job. Before she knew it, Redford was the Premier of Alberta and she helped her party cross the finish line in a tight race against the Wildrose. 

There is no question that Alison Redford is more progressive than she is conservative. Her most conservative move came in August when she opposed Justin Trudeau on the legalization of marijuana. It becomes clear to anyone who's paying attention that Stephen Carter's ambitions are directed at putting liberals in places they don't belong. He made Alison Redford the only liberal to ever occupy the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Before that, Carter made Naheed Nenshi mayor of Calgary. A decade before that, he helped put Joe Clark into the federal seat for Calgary-Centre to prevent a more conservative Canadian Alliance candidate from occupying the seat. Carter dubbed his campaign "Liberals For Joe".

Stephen Carter's political tactics could be viewed as either self serving or ideologically liberal. In Canada's most conservative province, where elected Liberals are rare, Carter has managed to sneak a few small Ls into office and use some moderate, less conservative Conservatives to block and defeat more right-leaning conservatives. For a liberal working in a conservative province, there couldn't be a better strategy. A strategy like that requires the most dishonest, unethical and deceptive tactics.

In terms of Stephen Carter's personal life, his business, Carter McRae Events, went tits-up after succumbing to half a million dollars worth of unpaid bills and legal action. His company was sued by the University Of Calgary, Stampede Entertainment, and AVW-TELAV Audio Visual Solutions for nearly $600,000. Questions arose about Carter's business practices and the ethical nature of his new company, BBOLD Public Relations, while he was acting as Redford's chief of staff and simultaneously engaging in a legal drama with a public institution. Last year, Redford finally sent Carter packing

Carter has earned himself a reputation as a smug, egocentric liberal with a Machiavellian view on politics. Morality and integrity don't seem to be factors in how he conducts his politics. There's no getting in the way of Carter's high view of his own accomplishments either. Mr. Carter continues to think that the Wildrose failed to win the provincial election because he wasn't on their team

Naheed Nenshi has had some bizarre and shady connections that require some explaining. In light of his support for The Pembina Institute, the connections of his inner circle might tell a much more complex story that voters deserve to understand.