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Calgary Coun. Farkas, Mayor Nenshi trade barbs over actions in closed-door meeting

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Councillor Jeromy Farkas traded barbs Tuesday morning after coming out of a closed-door meeting where city council received an update on union wage negotiations.

After council had returned back to council chambers, Farkas rose and accused the rest of council of walking out on him while he was speaking.

“The moment I’m able to defend myself and speak to it, council stages a walk out,” said Farkas. He was unable to say what he was speaking to, since the matter was confidential.

“It’s incredibly unfair. I think it’s disrespectful, just to me as a member of council, but to the citizens of Ward 11 whom I represent.”

The mayor responded, saying he appreciated what Farkas was saying, but also that he was playing with fire.

“If you are constantly treating your colleagues disrespectfully, both around this table and in public, then why do you expect respect back?”

Nenshi added that no other councillor is having these problems, and closed with a warning to the still-rookie councillor.

“You should be willing to say the same thing around this table that you say to the press,” said Nenshi.

In a Tuesday morning column, the Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell quoted Farkas as saying the city was making “confidential” payments to past members of council, although the column didn’t explore or investigate the claim.

Coun. Peter Demong then rose to say he had left the meeting while Farkas was speaking because he felt it had gone beyond the intended subject, which was a union negotiation update.

Council is scheduled to meet all week to discuss the proposed four-year budget.