A Calgary home builder who attended a secretly-taped meeting of industry insiders and members of a conservative think-tank says statements made there have been taken out of context.
Qualico Calgary vice-president Glynn Hendry was at the gathering six months ago where fellow home builder Cal Wenzel made controversial remarks about defeating members of council who are seen as being against the interests of home builders.
The meeting was covertly recorded and leaked to the media.
"I think Cal stated his position, and that he is supportive of a certain group of candidates and he was just providing his thoughts, is how I viewed it," Hendry said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi told CBC News some of Wenzel’s comments amounted to admissions that he engaged in illegal activities by exceeding political donation limits and advising his colleague to do the same.
But Hendry said the meeting has been misconstrued.
"I think what happens unfortunately — and I’ve learned this in the last couple days — is the media is very good and savvy at taking bits and pieces out of a meeting and, if I could say, distorting the context of that," he said.
Hendry told CBC Radio’s the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday that meeting’s main focus was a presentation by the right-wing Manning Centre about democracy and the importance of political engagement.
"Mostly, from my point of view, going to that meeting was to learn, as I say, about the democratic process, why we should be involved, and why politics is important," he said.
Hendry did acknowledge, however, that there’s a growing conflict of visions between city hall and the home-building industry.
"I would suggest that in the past we have had a disagreement, shall we say, or certain misalignment, with how this city should grow," he said.
"Is it market-driven by consumer choice, or is it planning or policy intervention into the marketplace?"
The industry feels city council has excluded them from key decision-making processes, Hendry said.
"I would say they feel it’s their right and they don’t have to consult us. And that’s the way it happens in many North American cities. But that’s not how Calgary works. Calgary prides itself on cooperation, sitting down at the table and solving problems," he said.
"Our industry has a tremendous amount of expertise that we could bring to the table that would be beneficial to all Calgarians."