Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected after it was incorrectly reported that Nenshi had handed over the check for $284,835.07 himself and that he had hired the lawyer to defend him. It was actually a series of cheques that were handed to the city over time and the city hired the lawyer based on their indemnification policy.
A committee has raised all the money required to pay Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s legal bill from a settled defamation lawsuit brought against him by Calgary homebuilder Cal Wenzel.
Nenshi said Tuesday his legal fees, amounting to $284,835.07, have been paid after a lawyer was hired to defend him against a lawsuit filed by Wenzel following comments made by Nenshi during the 2013 election campaign.
The matter was settled out of court in December 2015.
While the city solicitor ruled that the mayor was acting within his duties and had the right to be covered by the city for his legal bill, Nenshi asked council to let him pay back the money.
“I’ve always said if we can find better uses of taxpayer money, then we should find better uses of taxpayer money,” Nenshi said.
Dean Koeller, a Calgary businessman, set up a committee that would collect donations but admits it took a lot longer than he thought to raise the money.
“Absolutely, we wanted to create a grassroots approach to this; we didn’t want to create a lot of media attention, we didn’t want to make a political statement. We just wanted to make sure that the mayor wasn’t going to be personally financially impacted by paying this bill,” he said.
A list of the 100 donors, who gave between $25 and $10,000, has also been released. Nenshi made a personal contribution of just under $17,000. Koeller didn’t have an exact number, but admitted a number of donations came from outside Calgary and province of Alberta.
Because the donation was made to the City of Calgary and not to Nenshi himself, those who donated will receive a charitable tax receipt. The mayor said he doesn’t see a problem with that.
“The tax law is extremely clear: they were donating to the city,” he said. “And if people think that donations to a municipal government should not be eligible for a Canada Revenue Agency tax receipt, well there’s a minister of national revenue to take that up with, or the Canada Revenue Agency.”
Nenshi added that his own donation is not eligible for a charitable tax receipt.