CALGARY – Mayor Naheed Nenshi is expecting to hear details of a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against him by a well-known homebuilder on Monday.
Cal Wenzel, founder of Shane Homes, is suing Nenshi for $5 million in general damages, along with $1 million in punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages. Wenzel is claiming damage to his reputation stemming from comments made by the mayor following the release of a secretly-taped video.
Global News obtained an edited recording of a November meeting hosted by Wenzel in April. In the video, Wenzel presents a plan to defeat select members of city council who are perceived to be anti-development.
After the story broke last April, Nenshi and local labour unions called for an investigation into developer campaign contributions. No investigation has since been launched by any agency.
The suit, which is unproven in court, claims Nenshi distorted comments made by Wenzel in the video for political gain. Some of the claims are:
“Nenshi, cognizant of the contents of the video before it was publically disclosed or soon afterwards, developed an overarching civic election campaign strategy to smear Wenzel for political gain.”
“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.”
“Nenshi chose to distort Wenzel’s comments in the video as part of Nenshi’s election campaign rhetoric to create an inaccurate and disreputable characterization of Wenzel.”
Wenzel also issued a statement through his lawyer on Friday, saying in part:
“Privately voicing my political views to an audience of land development and housing industry people was not an invitation to the Mayor and some members of council to use me as a figurative punching bag. The false statements and election-campagin fear mongering at my expense went beyond what is legally right.
“The damage to my reputation has been real and substantial. It demands legal redress.”
The suit also accuses the mayor of “speaking falsely and maliciously” in an interview with a local radio station and intending on “vilify[ing]” Wenzel in other public statements.
A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
The mayor’s office tells Global News that the mayor is not commenting on the matter until he has been legally served.