W. Brett Wilson blames Naheed Nenshi's 2017 election win on voters in ethnically diverse neighbourhood
Celebrity millionaire W. Brett Wilson, a former Dragon’s Den star and co-owner of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, is at the centre of another controversy, this time accusing Calgary’s mayor of playing “the race card” to win the last election.
Naheed Nenshi, who is of Ismaili Muslim descent, is the city’s first Muslim mayor.
Wilson got involved in a heated exchange on Twitter Wednesday about the city’s planned Green Line transit expansion — one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Calgary’s History — trading sharp responses with people who told him the issue had already been settled after Calgary’s 2017 municipal election.
“Hardly the issue that won the day,” Wilson replied to a local doctor.
“The (northeast) voting block that rose up when Nenshi play the race card was what won the day,” Wilson tweeted.
Wilson’s comments echo a talking point floated by failed Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith in 2017, who accused Nenshi of “throwing the race card into the mix” after the mayor condemned racist trolls on social media.
It is unclear how those comments would have swayed the outcome of the election, which Nenshi won by a wide margin, carrying 12 of Calgary’s 14 wards.
Wilson did not respond to a request for comment from PressProgress asking him to clarify what he meant by his “race card” tweet.
His tweet prompted widespread criticism Wednesday afternoon.
Is the Northeast of the city not entitled to vote or something?
— Dr. Paul Theriault BSc, ND, VNMI (@DrPaulND) June 3, 2020
“play the race card”. You should be ashamed.
— Robin Mazumder (@RobinMazumder) June 3, 2020
Calgary non-profits, this guy is the worst. Please stop taking his money. This, along with many of his comments, are terrible and offensive.
Going forward I’m no longer emceeing/hosting events run by any organizations still receiving money from or are working with him. pic.twitter.com/Ko0G8AasOz
— Andrew Phung (@andrewphung) June 4, 2020
— Mimi Williams (@MimiProbably) June 3, 2020
Can you clarify what you mean by NE voting block responding to the race card? You mean non white people, right? Just want to get that reeeeaaally clear that you’re actually insinuating that whether because of their skin or location their vote is worth less. #racism #yyc
— Nicole Muldrew (@NicoleMuldrew) June 3, 2020
Maybe, just maybe, Smith’s only platform was that he wasn’t @nenshi & voters saw through it. The fact that Mr. Wilson decided to bring race into this particular discussion with his insinuations about “NE voting block” is inexcusable. Be better, sir. https://t.co/dZc3ZhLQlG
— Joe McFarland (@CalgaryToday) June 3, 2020
— MB Fawcett (@maxfawcett) June 3, 2020
Earlier this year, a group of Calgary elites with ties to Jason Kenney’s UCP gathered at the Petroleum Club in an effort to “delay” construction of the transit project.
Correction: This story originally stated that a group of Calgary elites gathered at the Petroleum Club last month. In fact, according to CBC News, the gathering at the Petroleum Club occurred in February.