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Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi in Calgary, Alberta, January 10, 2015.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Calgary's mayor is criticizing Alberta Premier Jim Prentice for spending millions to hold an early provincial election after refusing to restore funding for more child death investigations.

"I don't think I would've called an election now," Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday.

"I think that if we're in a world where it's difficult to find $200,000 to investigate the deaths of children in care to then find $30 million to run an election, it's a tough argument for me to make if I were in that shoe."

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Prentice announced the May 5 vote on Tuesday – a year before required under provincial law – saying his plan to wean the province from its dependence on oil revenues demands an endorsement from the people.

Last month's budget contained a host of tax hikes and austerity measures as the province wrestles with billions of dollars in lost revenue due to the steep plunge in oil prices over the last six months.

In February, Progressive Conservatives on the all-party legislative offices committee blocked the restoration of $275,000 in funding for the child and youth advocate for more investigations into the deaths of children in government care.

Nenshi noted that the 70 of 87 legislature seats the Tories held at dissolution was a "pretty good mandate."

He said he's concerned the election could see historically low voter turnout and called on Calgarians to get engaged over the next four weeks.

"What I'm hearing from Calgarians over and over again is they're not happy about his election, they're not happy about spending up to $30 million on the election," he said.

"But they are not convinced that there are really good options and choices for them."

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Nenshi said it's critical that people vote.

"Whether we want the election or not, we have got an election and an election is an opportunity for all of us to make our voices heard and the best way to make your voice heard is to vote," he said.

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