Naheed Nenshi still not served lawsuit papers by home builder

Calgary's mayor still has not been served with a lawsuit that was filed against him for defamation.

Legal experts suggest there could be strategic reasons behind Cal Wenzel's delay

Calgary home builder Cal Wenzel, right, settled a defamation lawsuit against Mayor Naheed Nenshi in December. (CBC)

Calgary's mayor has yet to be served with a lawsuit that was filed against him for defamation.

Shane Homes CEO Cal Wenzel filed the multi-million dollar suit last week for remarks Naheed Nenshi made about him during the fall election campaign.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven.

The mayor was expecting to be served the legal papers on Monday.

The delay could be strategic, according to Averi McNary, who teaches law at the University of Alberta.

“If it's a defamation case, you might want to draw an apology or you might want to stop the other side from doing whatever it is that it's doing, so it's kind of a threat or a shot across the bow,” McNary said.

Under Alberta’s rules of court, a complainant has up to one year to serve a defendant after filing a lawsuit.

Once a claim is served and the defendant take legal steps — such a filing a statement defence — the defendant can insist the plaintiff pay the legal costs if the plaintiff later wants to drop the suit.

Political scientist Paul Fairie at the University of Calgary said there can also be political reasons for suing an elected official.

“If doesn't even matter whether the lawsuit has any sort of good legal standing or legal justification. Just the fact that you bring one up can often sort of serve to muddy the waters a little bit.”

A Calgary mayor has been sued before. The lawyer for a developer successfully sued former mayor Rod Sykes in 1969 for saying he had misled city council.

He had to pay $10,000 in damages and his own court costs. But it didn't hurt him -- he went on to win reelection.     

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