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Calgary’s mayoral race gets ugly with accusations of racism

Calgary’s mayoral race getting ugly with accusations of ‘racism’
WATCH: Calgarians will head to the polls in one week and the race to become the next mayor is heating up. The latest issue generated by so-called bots and trolls - racism. Jill Croteau reports.

With one week before Albertans head to the polls for the 2017 municipal vote, the Calgary mayoral campaign is taking a nasty turn.

FULL COVERAGE: 2017 Calgary election

There are allegations that so-called bots and online trolls are perpetuating racist and hateful comments.

Bots are fake social media profiles initially created by humans but then driven by algorithms. The use of bots can impact a candidate’s reputation by flooding social networks with false information.

READ MORE: Facebook pulls plug on AI bots after they start inventing their own language

Incumbent mayoral candidate Naheed Nenshi appeared in a video about the issue that was posted to social media.

“There are forces out there supporting opponents that want us to go backwards and don’t want a city that is so inclusive of everyone,” Nenshi said in the Facebook video, which was posted by Mashhood Qazi.

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“We know that they are using a lot of technology to get people who don’t believe in diversity, to get people who might be racists or haters, out to vote.”

Nenshi’s mayoral opponent Bill Smith has said he has no idea who is behind these bots.

“We just don’t have the time, as a campaign, to worry about bots of whatever they may be,” Smith said.

READ MORE: Calgary mayoral candidates Q&A – Which 3 projects would you fund?

Smith claims he, too, has been subjected to questionable comments.

“We have [had] as strong language come our way from people on other campaigns,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunately part of the new discourse in politics. It is harsh and I don’t condone it, I don’t like it, but I have chosen to ignore it.”

The video that featured Nenshi has since been removed.

Watch below: Tony Tighe reports on why social media could be contributing to campaign sign vandalism in Calgary

Why social media could be contributing to campaign sign vandalism in Calgary
Why social media could be contributing to campaign sign vandalism in Calgary

Global News made multiple requests to speak with someone directly on Nenshi’s campaign, but were only provided with a written statement from the Re-elect Naheed Nenshi campaign chair, Chima Nkemdirim.

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The statement reads:

“Throughout this campaign there has been a remarkable rise in racist and hateful comments on social media, which Mayor Nenshi has spoken out against for months.

“The comments from a small minority have been magnified by automated bots and anonymous accounts online.”

“We are unified with the other candidates in the election for condemning these activities. The vast majority of Calgarians defend our city’s diversity and inclusiveness so that Calgary remains a great place to make a life for everyone.”