A Calgary developer who was secretly recorded discussing a plan to defeat members of city council has filed a $6-million defamation suit against Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Documents filed in Court of Queen’s Bench allege Mr. Nenshi distorted the comments made by Shane Homes CEO Cal Wenzel for political gain. Mr. Wenzel also pointed to an interview with CBC Radio where Mr. Nenshi insinuated the video was a scene “out of the movie [The] Godfather." Asked if he was calling Mr. Wenzel The Godfather, Mr. Nenshi replied: “Maybe.”
None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
Mr. Nenshi made his comments after an 18-minute video of Mr. Wenzel was leaked to the media in April, well before the October civic election. The video showed Mr. Wenzel telling a meeting of fellow developers which councillors he approved of and which ones he was supporting with campaign donations.
At the time, Mr. Nenshi called for an investigation into whether there was any breach of election laws.
Mr. Wenzel later said he had made no secret of how unhappy he was about the governance in Calgary, but said he never requested or received a favour from any alderman. According to Mr. Wenzel’s statement of claim, “Nenshi ... developed an overarching civic election campaign strategy to smear Wenzel for political gain.”
The document also states: “Nenshi planned to use Wenzel as a foil to his political ambitions and aspirations, which were contingent on the election of a sufficient number of city councillors who shared and supported Nenshi’s political agenda.”
As of Friday, Mr. Nenshi had yet to be served. He will not comment until he is.
Mr. Wenzel is seeking $5-million in general damages and another $1-million in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages. The document claims Mr. Wenzel and his family received a death threat and suffered from emotional distress and humiliation.
Mr. Wenzel adds in the claim that he waited until the election was over before suing Mr. Nenshi to avoid creating “a sideshow that would distract from important city issues.”
With files from Canadian Press