Naheed Nenshi and Cal Wenzel settle long-simmering defamation lawsuit

Naheed Nenshi and homebuilder Cal Wenzel have reached an out-of-court settlement that ends Wenzel's defamation lawsuit against the mayor of Calgary.

Calgary mayor and homebuilder end legal battle that began in 2013 municipal election

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

Naheed Nenshi and homebuilder Cal Wenzel have reached an out-of-court settlement that ends Wenzel's defamation lawsuit against the mayor of Calgary.

The one-page document, signed by both men, was agreed to following mediated negotiations.

In the agreement, Nenshi:

  • Retracts and apologizes for statements he made about Wenzel on April 24, 2013 and on CBC Calgary's morning radio show, the Calgary Eyeopener, on Oct. 9, 2013.
  • Agrees that as a result of subsequent information, he "understands, appreciates and states" that Wenzel's actions in the 2010 election did not violate election laws.
  • Agrees that he did not intend to suggest Wenzel is the head of a criminal organization.

For his part, Wenzel:

  • Regrets any statements and any harm done to Nenshi's reputation.
  • Agrees that Nenshi has raised legitimate concerns that lawsuits against politicians can have a 'chilling effect' and that this was never his intent.

Under the terms of the document, neither one will comment on the terms of the settlement. 

The deal effectively ends the litigation, which started in November 2013 when Wenzel filed a statement of claim against the mayor, seeking $6 million in damages.

Nenshi was successful in securing a jury trial for the case, and 14 days of court time were set aside for February 2016.

Legal costs

Earlier this fall, Wenzel applied to have a summary judgement, but that bid was rejected by Justice David Gates who ordered Wenzel to pay $10,000 to help cover Nenshi's legal costs in defending himself against that application. 

Wenzel's decision to change lawyers also sparked a renewed effort to try to resolve the lawsuit ahead of the trial. 

It remains to be seen whether Nenshi will be asking the City of Calgary to assist him with his legal costs. No estimate of those costs has been provided, but it's believed that legal bill exceeds $100,000.

The mayor can forward that bill to the city's law department but it would ultimately be up to city council whether to pay it or not. Nenshi would not be allowed to participate in that council discussion.


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