CALGARY -- Calgary actor and comedian Andrew Phung is calling on non-profit agencies to cut ties with W. Brett Wilson after the businessman and philanthropist accused Mayor Naheed Nenshi of playing the race card in the last civic election.

Wilson made the comment during an online debate over the future of the proposed Green Line LRT. He has been a vocal critic of the $4.9 billion project in recent weeks, arguing economic conditions in Calgary have changed enough that it should be delayed so the scope and alignment can be rethought.

He later apologized "without reservation" to Nenshi for the post.

Best known for appearing on three seasons of Dragons' Den, Wilson was challenged on the idea of pausing the Green Line project by someone saying the debate had been settled in the 2017 civic election, which Nenshi won over lawyer Bill Smith. That result, they said, meant Calgarians support the project.

"No. The NE voting block that rose up when Nenshi play the race card was what won the day. Smiths views on the GreenLine were irrelevant," Wilson replied.

Reaction was swift, with several people pointing out Nenshi carried 12 of 14 wards in the vote.

Hours later, Phung — best known for his role as Kimchee on the show Kim's Convenience — called on non-profit organizations to cut ties with Wilson.

"Going forward I'm no longer emceeing/hosting events run by any organizations still receiving money from or are working with him," he tweeted.

Nenshi also addressed the issue on social media

"I generally ignore hateful people but wasn’t I just saying yesterday about how the cheapest insult is “playing the race card”? (I also won 12 of 14 wards and biggest margin was in Mr. Wilson’s neighbourhood if memory serves)," he tweeted.

And he addressed the issue during Thursday's regular update on COVID-19.

"It's so wrong on so many levels," he said. "A, it's factually wrong. B, it implies even if it were wrong that people who are not white votes should count less ... or they shouldn't vote at all, that they don't deserve to vote, that they're not real Canadians.

"And yet, when the newspaper article was written about it today, they talked about how much money he gives to charity, not about the content of his statements. That's also casual racism and we have to figure out how we get that out of our system so it doesn't infect our system even more."

Following Nenshi's comments, Wilson apologized to the mayor on his Twitter account, saying he "apologized without reservation."

"Yesterday, I posted a thoughtless and inflammatory tweet about the 2017 Calgary municipal election that upset Mayor Nenshi and many others," he wrote. "My track record of support for Canada's many forms of diversity is very strong."

A city committee voted earlier this week to accept alignment changes to the Green Line proposed by administration, including:

  • A surface alignment on Centre Street N. and a surface station at 16th Avenue N.
  • Addition of Ninth Avenue N. Station in Crescent Heights
  • A bridge over the river
  • A below-grade station/portal at Second Avenue S.W. to be integrated in the Eau Claire Market redevelopment site
  • Seventh Avenue underground station
  • Underground alignment on 11th Avenue in the Beltline and an underground station at Fourth Street S.E.
  • BRT improvements along Centre Street North

The changes will go before council as a whole on June 15.