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Mayor Nenshi to ask for investigation into Calgary Olympics media leak

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said as chair of council, he has no choice but to ask the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate who leaked a confidential document related to costs of Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The document leaked to the CBC suggested there could be extra costs above what’s already been reported if the city chose to build the athletes’ village on the site of Calgary Transit’s bus barns in Victoria Park.

“Under the Municipal Government act, as well as under the City of Calgary’s code of conduct bylaw, you actually cannot leak confidential information,” said the Mayor.

“Regardless of what it’s about or the benefits of getting it out there, you just can’t do it.”

The mayor said he isn’t sure that it was a councillor who leaked the information, but he knows who was in the room when the discussion took place, and it was mostly councillors.

“If a member of council conducts what is essentially an illegal act, then I have no choice as the chair of the council but to investigate that or to ask for that to be investigated,” he said.

The mayor also said he believes a leak such as this actually does more to muddy the water surrounding true costs of an Olympic bid. He said building at the bus barn site is just one of a number of options, and the note that costs could increase in that scenario was simply due diligence.

“Really all it is, is a discussion saying let’s make sure we have a look at the environmental remediation costs. That is actually what misleads voters.”

Council had previously committed to releasing most of the document at the last council meeting. Coun. Jeromy Farkas brought forth a matter of urgent business on Monday to release information contained in certain sections pertaining to costs included in the Calgary Olympics Draft Hosting Plan.

“I think having uncertainty on these numbers only serves to muddy the waters, and I think that if there is information that we can release, I would rather us go down that route,” said Farkas.

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Nenshi said he was open to a fuller discussion on the matter, behind closed doors, after a request for such was made by Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating. But, he was adamant the information should not just be released to the public, per Coun. Farkas’ motion.

“What that precedent sets is, anyone who leaks anything, can then get it released publicly,” Nenshi said.

“And I think that’s ridiculous.”

The mayor told council his request to the integrity commissioner would be for an investigation that includes a forensic audit of devices – both personal and city-owned – as well as email and text messages.

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart suggested the province get involved as it has in past breaches of confidentiality, but was happy to see this action taken.

“With today’s IT abilities, we’re much more capable of tracking these things down than we used to be,” she said.

“It certainly should send a chilling effect through the chamber.”

For his part, Farkas told reporters he categorically denies being the leaker, although he wants the documents to be released so he can have discussions with his constituents about the true costs of an Olympic bid.

Nenshi said the penalties for a councillor who leaked the document are not all that harsh because the act has no teeth. He did say the results of any investigation will be made public.