We've been told it's going to be a full house here, standing room only for those who didn't RSVP. Nenshi's lecture is titled Canada's Cities: Canada's Future.
Ryerson Professor Myer Siemiatycki, the inaugural Jack Layton Chair in Ryerson University’s Faculty of Arts, is speaking about Jack Layton's legacy before Nenshi takes the stage.
Siemiatycki begins with somber thoughts on today's shooting in Ottawa, says we need Jack Layton's spirit today more than ever.
Some background on Layton's relationship with Ryerson: He served as a political science instructor at Ryerson from 1974 to 1982.
Siemiatycki worked closely with Layton as colleagues in Ryerson's Department of Politics and Public Administration.
Nenshi tells us Layton's mother, Doris Layton, is also in the crowd here tonight.
"Certainly today is a day we will remember with sadness," Nenshi says, referring to today's shootings.
Nenshi: "We're in a country where over 80 per cent of us live in cities."
“Our cities are the engines of the economy, and they're the magnets that draw people here from all over the world," says Nenshi.
"Did I mention, by the way, that LRTs work very well?" Nenshi jokes, to a round of raucous applause from the audience. A teaser for discussions of Toronto politics later tonight perhaps?
Naheed speaking now about the floods in Canmore, Alb. in 2013, the costliest natural disaster in Canada's history, and how he handled it as the Mayor of Calgary at the time.
"That’s nature, and it’s something that we cannot control no matter how sophisticated we are," says Nenshi.
Nenshi speaking on transparency within public service now: "Whatever we know, everyone will know. Unless there's a compelling public service reason to hold something back, then everyone will know what we know, when we know it."
"We use every possible medium to communicate what's going on as soon as we know it," says Nenshi about the floods.
"My core political philosophy is this: People are not stupid," says Nenshi. "It's that human beings are good, that human beings are smart, that human beings when left to their own devices will do the right thing."
Nenshi says he doesn't consider himself left wing or right wing. "That's a term for political scientists, and I'm not even sure they know what that means."
"Just how lucky we are to live in this place, in this province and this country, to live in a place where government works," says Nenshi.
Nenshi praises the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces for their help during the flooding.
"Mayor, my basement is dry but we were all affected by the floods," Nenshi says, quoting a citizen. At its peak, 10 to 15 per cent of Calgary residents were hit by the floods.
Nenshi shows photo of thousands of Calgary residents who showed up to McMahon Stadium to help with the flood clean-up, "united only by their desire to help their neighbours."
Nenshi recounts what he told the unexpectedly high turnout at McMahon: "Folks, we’ve run out of forms. There's no more room on the buses. But you know what, you’re all here to help, and who am I to stop you. So you know what, go help. Just go. You know what neighbourhoods were flooded, you know where people need you, so just go."
"It’s about understanding that even in that time you live in a community . . . You live in a community full of people who understand that our neighbour’s strength is out strength and our neighbour’s pain is our pain," says Nenshi, telling various anecdotes about specific Calgary residents he met during the floods.
Nenshi recalls 1,400 quilts made and sent to Calgary residents with cards that read, "You've been through a lot. There are people who are thinking of you. Please accept this from us."
Nenshi recalls sign posted to a tree as one of the things he remembers most about the flooding. "We lost some stuff. We gained a community. Thank you."