Mayor Naheed Nenshi vows to fight $6M lawsuit
CTV Calgary Staff, CTV Calgary
Published Monday, November 18, 2013 5:56AM MST
Last Updated Monday, November 18, 2013 6:27PM MST
The mayor is facing a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit from a Calgary developer and says he will fight back.
Cal Wenzel, the CEO of Shane Homes, claims the mayor defamed him for political gain and filed a lawsuit against Nenshi last week.
The development mogul has made no secret of his desire for more pro-development voices on city council but the lawsuit claims Naheed Nenshi distorted comments Wenzel made in a 2012 video secretly recorded at a meeting of developers.
Wenzel is suing Nenshi for $6 million.
Several city councillors are concerned that taxpayers could end up paying Nenshi’s legal costs in what could become a lengthy court battle.
The mayor is not apologizing and in a statement released on Monday says:
“As you know, I'm being sued by Cal Wenzel, the founder of Shane Homes. Mr. Wenzel, through his own actions, is the architect of his own situation. He is the one who decided how he was going to influence the election and to hold that secret meeting.
“This lawsuit is extremely disappointing but I am not surprised by his use of legal action.
“Mr. Wenzel stated back in April: ‘Our family is more resolved than ever to go after him.’ And it appears that he's making good on his threat.
“In my opinion, this type of lawsuit is very dangerous. It is dangerous because it poses a very significant risk of chilling political discourse and freedom of speech in this country. These types of lawsuits will make it extremely difficult for Council members to do their jobs. It could dissuade people from running for public office if they know that they might be the subject of costly and groundless litigation. Politicians should be able to speak on matters of public policy without the fear of being sued. That is why I must vigorously defend myself in this lawsuit.
“As to the question of cost, The City is asking its insurer to confirm whether or not this matter is covered under its insurance policies.
“It's worth noting that I'm not a wealthy man. I left the private sector 13 years ago to devote myself to education, public service and community work. This suit, including the outrageous damages that Mr. Wenzel is seeking is clearly designed to scare me and others.
“I want to say just one more thing. My parents taught me that if you have a problem with somebody, the first step is to sit down and discuss it. Mr. Wenzel and I have never had a discussion about his problems with The City or with me. To my knowledge he’s never asked for a meeting. I have always been willing and I continue to be willing to sit down with him anytime, anyplace and have a conversation. I think that would be a far better way to handle a complaint rather than running to the courts.”