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Mayor calls for investigation of civic election campaign contributions

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Global News

CALGARY- Mayor Naheed Nenshi says revelations on a secretly taped video obtained by Global News merit an investigation by the province.

The cell phone video was shot at a meeting of developers last November, in which the founder of Shane Homes, Cal Wenzel, presents a plan to defeat select members of city council who are perceived to be anti-development, by supporting candidates who are developer-friendly.

Wenzel points to the high cost of running a civic election campaign and encourages the attendees to donate to candidates he supports. He also discusses other ways his preferred candidates can be supported.

“One of the things you look at when getting rid of an incumbent such as Druh Farrell or Pincott- the candidates Kevin Taylor, James Maxim, are suggesting they need somewhere in the area of $150,000 to $200,000 in their campaign funds.

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“Now that could be a little bit less because Chris has promised every United truck he owns to be made available and he is going to print signs on their computers, so maybe he can get by with $125,000 – that is how much money these guys think they need.”

It’s not clear from the video who Wenzel is referring to when discussing the donations.

At one point, Wenzel talks about campaign contributions made to Kevin Taylor, who ran against Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell in the 2010 civic election and is running again in next October’s civic election.

“I had 13 trucks out last election delivering signs and assembling them, and I got called by Druh and the elections because they said I’d given $5,000 in cash so therefore my trucks that were out delivering put me over the $5,000 limit. “

Kevin Taylor is both denying Wenzel’s statements and any assertion he has done anything wrong. He says he accepted the maximum donation allowed from Shane Homes, and that only three trucks showed up to help, and they were manned by volunteers.

“Cal followed the rules as I would expect and I am vigilant about people that donate to my campaign,” Taylor told Global News. “We do not break the rules and I am a guardian of the trust, and simply put I will not break the spirit of the rules. So in my mind, they were volunteers that came out after work or on Saturday morning and there were only 3 trucks.”

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But Nenshi says what he sees on the recording appears to be a violation of laws on campaign contributions.

“What you see here is not just exploitation of loopholes but things that seem to contravene even the weak laws we have now,” says the mayor.

“For example, in the video we have an admission that in the 2010 election there were donations in kind far, far above the $5,000 donation limit.”

Councillor Druh Farrell agrees the province should be investigating whether campaign contribution laws were violated.

“I hope some good things come out of this- that we look at meaningful campaign financing reform that we have talked about for years,” says Farrell.

Global News has contacted the City of Calgary’s Returning Officer, Elections Alberta, and Municipal Affairs for comment on a possible investigation but so far there has only been a response from Municipal Affairs.

The provincial government department says it’s up to city council or an individual to file a legal action if they believe the Local Authorities Election Act has been violated. A spokesman says the way the law is currently structured, the ministry does not investigate on its own.

James Maxim is aware he is named but says he won’t respond until he views the entire video.

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Cal Wenzel has agreed to be interviewed by Global News Wednesday morning.

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