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Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is pictured on Sept. 16, 2015.

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

A $5,000-a-plate re-election campaign fundraiser for Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has been cancelled over allegations the event amounted to cash for access.

The luncheon, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, was to have been hosted by Calgary's Kasian Architecture.

Just 20 people would have heard Nenshi speak and get some one-on-one time with the mayor, who is seeking a third term in office.

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There is no rule prohibiting such an event but some city councillors raised concerns that the optics of the luncheon didn't look good.

Kasian and the mayor's re-election campaign issued a statement Monday saying they had made a joint decision to cancel the luncheon "due to the mischaracterization about this event and the host."

The statement also expressed concern over how the company had been treated.

"The campaign very much appreciated the willingness of Kasian to support the Nenshi campaign and is disappointed about the treatment Kasian has received in its efforts to support the democratic process," read the statement. "The Nenshi campaign will continue to participate in fundraising and free public events in the run up to the election."

"It doesn't look good, $5,000, and it almost sounds like buying influence," said Coun. Sean Chu.

"I have intimate conversations with people all the time and it doesn't cost them anything," said Coun. Andre Chabot, who is running against Nenshi for the mayor's office. "An interesting time during an election campaign, you want to meet with the mayor, you got $5,000, you get an intimate meeting."

Nenshi told reporters he is the most open mayor ever to occupy the office and called the allegations "dumb".

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"This weekend I probably interacted with, without a word of exaggeration because I was at some very large Eid events, more than 10,000 Calgarians, none of whom paid a cent," he said.

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