Experts expect to see more controversy in Calgary’s mayoral race
It was a packed house at the final mayors’ forum of the Calgary election campaign and many of those attending were looking for answers and apologies from the front-runners in the race.
The gathering, organized at the Crossroads Community Hall by the 12 Community Safety Initiative, had all of the candidates in attendance.
The two-hour town hall meeting remained rather tame, but incumbent Naheed Nenshi was booed at one point and was asked to apologize for comments he made last week regarding a possibility that some voters were discriminating against candidates because of their race.
Nenshi made the comment in an online video he posted on Friday and experts say it’s just a taste of the controversy they believe will be coming to the surface in the final week of the campaign.
“Here we are on Tuesday, the vote is on Monday. I expect more of these stories to come out in the next couple of days,” said MRU political scientist Duane Bratt.
The incumbent isn’t the only one on the defensive against controversy in the campaign. On Tuesday, details were leaked about an unexecuted warrant against one of Bill Smith’s businesses about $24,000 in unpaid loan payments.
Smith claims the money was paid as soon as he learned about the issue and admits it was his error, one he hopes voters will overlook.
“”I hope they look at it just like we looked at it; I make mistakes. I will probably make mistakes as mayor, but I will do my darnedest to fix it as soon as I realize the mistake has been done.”
Meanwhile, as Nenshi cast his ballot at one of Calgary’s advance polling stations, he stood by his comments that suggested the supporters of some of the other candidates are driven by racist ideology.
While he weathered public backlash over the claims, he said it’s an issue he’s been vocal about for years.
“I think it’s really important for every candidate to denounce that. Yeah, I know some people say, ‘that doesn’t happen here, how dare you talk about that’, but of course it happens here. If we don’t talk about it, if we don’t call out hatred when we see it; that’s actually a very big problem.”
Experts say the race is now more about personal attacks rather than platforms, something that the top contenders both agree on.
(With files from Jordan Kanygin)