CALGARY- It’s official: Calgary’s mayor has been served with a multi-million dollar lawsuit.
Cal Wenzel, the 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.
Nenshi was officially served with the lawsuit on Thursday afternoon, and called the case a ‘SLAPP’–court jargon for a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
“The idea behind a SLAPP is you file a lawsuit without thinking you are going to win,” he explained. “You ask for outrageous damages and the whole point of it is to distract your subject, and to scare other people from speaking their minds and to cause financial harm to the subject of the lawsuit through payment of legal fees.”
Nenshi says he plans to defend himself, but doesn’t want taxpayers to be on the hook for his legal bills.
“Current council policy suggests at the end of a process one may make application to council for the reimbursement of legal fees. But, I’ve got to tell you, I have not done it. I have no intent to do it at this time but the actual decision to do that is probably years away.”
Councillors expect it to be business as usual at city hall, despite the lawsuit.
“Any time there is any question about any member of council in so far as their, actions it’s going to have some impact. To what degree I don’t know that its going to affect our day to day operations,” said Counc. Andre Chabot. “I think council is pretty focused on route ahead plans for the future, and I think we are going to move forward one way or another.”
Nenshi has yet to file a defence claim.