ALBERTA

Cal Wenzel Naheed Nenshi React: Calgarians, Mayor Respond To Plot To Influence Council

04/24/2013 03:11 EDT | Updated 04/24/2013 06:46 EDT

As a leaked video outlining a $1.1 million-plot to influence the coming municipal election, while 'looking after' of current aldermen, makes its rounds, Calgarians were quick to take aim on the ones behind the plan - city builders.

In the city at the economic centre of free-enterprise Alberta, calls by citizens defending government and attacking business interests is an almost unheard of thing but is the kind of angered debate that's starting to take shape in Calgary.

"Unimpressed that this group of homourless, yet wealthy, developers appear to believe that it's OK to subvert the democratic electoral process so they can continue to develop unimaginative beige sprawl," said Ron Read on Facebook.

"I am utterly disgusted. I am hoping for the highest level of scrutiny in the upcoming election," Joy Mamer added on Facebook.

"People should boycott the builders who really should be forced to pay for infrastructure or schools in their new developments as punishment."

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Calgary Developers Scandal

The comments come after a secret video was leaked to Global Calgary on Monday.

The footage, which was allegedly recorded in November, shows prominent city developer and Shane Homes founder Cal Wenzel laying out a plan to use more than $1 million to influence serving city aldermen, to help fund developers-friendly candidates in the coming municipal election and to bring the Manning Centre and Preston Manning "on board," to help exact the changes.

In the video, Wenzel goes on to name the city aldermen who have been, "taken care of," as well as the ones who don't "vote the right way."

"Oh that's really smart.. developers calling the shots. They must think they own Calgary," said Jillian Rainville on Facebook.

"While I don't trust most politicians, I certainly don't think that developers have the public best interest at heart."

But reaction wasn't limited to the citizenry, with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi weighing in on Wednesday morning on the CBC's The Eyeopener.

Nenshi, who polls say is the most popular mayor in Canada, said the primary players in the leaked video have never personally or publicly addressed him with concerns and said he has no idea why they would mount such "shady," backroom political dealings to influence council and affect change in the fall's elections.

"I've never met the guy.. he's never called me, he's never expressed his concerns publicly," Nenshi told Eyeopener host David Gray.

"These are guys who live in a world of enormous wealth and success, this is a world of Ferraris and private jets, so what they're mad about, despite the fact that their.. business is so successful, your guess is as good as mine."

It's not about the fact that Calgary home builders are pushing for change - in a political system, that's encouraged, said Nenshi - but it's the way they went about it that is concerning, and may even be illegal, he added.

"Everybody has not just the right, I would say the responsibility, to get involved in the political process. So absolutely, raise money, donate money, pound in signs, volunteer in campaigns, it doesn't matter who you are or what industry you represent," said Nenshi.

"But if you do it, it needs to be in a way that's transparent, that's ethical, above board and.. most importantly, legal and there are three instances in that video where it appears to me that the speaker is condoning illegal activity."

"If you got a vision that you want to take to the citizens of Calgary, if it's a vision of continued suburban sprawl and corporate welfare, then take it to the citizens. Don't do it in the backrooms.. If people want to vote for that vision, then that's their right," Nenshi added in the Eyeopener.

Nenshi has called for an investigation into the allegations and dealings by the home builders.

But in his interview with the CBC, he also questioned the ethics behind the Manning Centre's involvement in the allegations.

The centre, which is headed by the founder and leader of the now-defunct Reform Party, Preston Manning, was established to train and prepare conservative-minded candidates to run in, and win, elections and govern afterwards.

The angry mood on social media was also tampered by a fair share of cynicism, as many commentators said they weren't surprised the plot had come to light, while others said this likely only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to corruption in the province.