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Councillor Jeromy Farkas ejected from council meeting over ‘dishonest’ Facebook post

Ward 11 Coun. Jeormy Farkas was ejected from the remainder of a Calgary City Council meeting for a Facebook post that was deemed dishonest by the rest of council.

Earlier in the afternoon, council had debated a motion to freeze councillor salaries for 2019.

Although the motion was brought forward by Coun. Ward Sutherland, Farkas proposed an amendment that would’ve cut council salaries by five per cent, instead of just freezing them.

During the debate, the city’s acting chief financial officer, Carla Male, told council that based on the current formula for determining council salaries, they were likely looking at a reduction of 0.2 per cent.

Council salaries are tied to a 12-month average of Statistics Canada’s weekly earnings report for Alberta.

Upon hearing that, even Sutherland urged councillors to vote against his original motion to freeze salaries, because freezing them might prevent a reduction.

However in a Facebook post that came out shortly after council voted against a pay cut or a pay freeze, Farkas told his followers that council was due for a 2.3 per cent pay increase.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi asked Farkas why he had used numbers from more than a month ago, instead of the latest information provided today, but Farkas insisted that the old number was more accurate.

“If that (0.2 per cent) is in fact the final number, I’m prepared to retract my statement, but otherwise I’ll rely on the information I gave,” said Farkas.

Nenshi responded by saying that his answer was not good enough, and he called Farkas’ actions dishonest and irresponsible.

“That information you have was from Nov. 21. You had information today, Dec. 15, a full month later,” said Nenshi.

When Farkas still refused to retract the statement, council voted on a motion brought forward by Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart to have him ejected from the remainder of the meeting until he made an apology acceptable to the meeting for violating the councillor code of conduct.

In a recorded vote, every councillor voted in favour of the motion, with the exception of Farkas himself.

Council then resumed a closed-door meeting that had already been in progress.