Municipal Election

Leaked home builder memo lays out preferred candidates

A Calgary home building firm has given its employees a memo with a list of candidates the company endorses in Monday's civic election.

Letter from APEX boss includes message from Jon Lord, who warns about 'scary neighbours' in the inner city

A Calgary home building firm has given its employees a memo with a list of candidates the company endorses in Monday's civic election.

The memo was put out by APEX president and CEO Greg Lefebre.

It includes an endorsement of mayoral hopeful Jon Lord alongside a two-page letter written by the candidate.

The unpublished letter — called 'In Defence of Homebuilders' — talks about the perils of living in inner-city, high-density areas with "scary neighbours" and "SARS outbreaks."

Lord told CBC News he stands by what he wrote.

“You know the vibrancy of the inner city is terrific when you’re in your 20s. We all remember Electric Avenue and what fun it was, but really, would you want to raise your children there?

“You know, fire hazards, scary people on the street, everything else. That comes along with inner-city vibrancy, and why a lot of people would say the suburbs is a better place to raise families,” Lord said.

Lord's letter is antagonistic and disparaging towards people in their 20s and inner-city dwellers in general, said Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt.

"He says it's crime ridden, and my favourite quote is, 'You can live in a high-density community ... as long as you don't have to factor in sky-high rents, scary neighbours, massive community opposition, no grass and SARS outbreaks,'" said Bratt.

"So it's not so much the message, it's the tone that is so dismissive, antagonistic and embarrassing, I think, for Jon Lord."

Put it in context, Bratt says

Bratt also said Lefebre's memo has to be viewed in the context of a secretly video-taped meeting earlier this year between home building industry insiders and members of a conservative think-tank.

That video showed Cal Wenzel, founder of Shane Homes, talking about defeating members of council who are seen as being against the interests of home builders.

"It is a secret ballot. No one has to know the way you vote. But you are being encouraged, you're being directed, he's basically saying the future of our sector is at stake," Bratt said.

"So you can vote whichever way you want, but if you vote the wrong way, this could hurt our company, this could hurt our industry, this could lead to layoffs. There's an implicit threat there."

Lefebre’s memo, obtained by local media outlets, is dated Sept. 27. The company released a statement Friday saying the intention of the memo was to engage employees to get out and vote.

"As an industry, we are working to preserve the livelihood of thousands of employees, trades, and suppliers who build new homes in Calgary. Our industry provides close to 40,000 jobs within Calgary," it read.

"We stand by the memo as a call to action and make no apology for it."

The endorsements are:

  • Chris Harper for Ward 1.
  • Joe Magliocca for Ward 2.
  • Jim Stevenson for Ward 3.
  • Sean Chu for Ward 4.
  • Ray Jones for Ward 5.
  • Joe Connelly for Ward 6.
  • Kevin Taylor for Ward 7.
  • Richard Wilkie for Ward 9.
  • Andre Chabot for Ward 10.
  • James Maxim for Ward 11.
  • Shane Keating for Ward 12.
  • Diane Colley-Urquhart for Ward 13.
  • Peter Demong for Ward 14.

No Ward 8 candidate got an endorsement from APEX.

"And here I think again you have to look at the Wenzel tape. He was quite critical of John Mar, saying he's too wishy washy, too independent minded, so they can't endorse Mar. And they can't endorse Evan Woolley because he is trying to attach himself to Nenshi's coattails," Bratt said.

Lefebre also told employees the company will close its offices for three hours on Monday to give them a chance to get to polling stations.

Alberta law requires employers to ensure employees have three consecutive hours to cast their vote.

Labour group also has winners wish list

The Calgary and District Labour Council also has a list of its favourite candidates.

The council said seven candidates for city council have values in sync with the organization and have a chance at victory.

Those candidates are:

  • Chris Harper for Ward 1.
  • Bernie Dowhan for Ward 2.
  • Gael MacLeod for Ward 4.
  • Druh Farrell for Ward 7.
  • Evan Woolley for Ward 8.
  • Gian-Carlo Carra for Ward 9.
  • Brian Pincott for Ward 11.

In the Calgary Board of Education races, the council is backing:

  • Rick Lundy for Wards 3 and 4.
  • Trina Hurdman for Wards 6 and 7.
  • Judy Hehr for Wards 8 and 9.
  • Larry Leach for Wards 5 and 10.
  • Sheila Taylor for Wards 11 and 13
  • Amber Stewart for Wards 12 and 14.

For the Catholic School Board the council is backing:

  • Serafino Scarpino for Wards 1, 2 and Cochrane.
  • Margaret Belcourt for Wards 4 and 7.
  • Mary Martin for Wards 13 and 14.

Council president Alexander Shevalier said the organization will tell its member unions about the list and let them decide how to communicate that information to their members. 

Those organizations represent 44,000 workers.


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