Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Coun. George Chahal says province ‘resorting to dog whistle politics’ on police funding issue

Calgary city councillor George Chahal took aim at Alberta’s justice minister, after the latter’s comments in a recent opinion column in a local newspaper.

In Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell’s Friday piece, Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu is quoted as saying Calgary city council is trying to “confuse the public” because citizens are not on board with the Calgary Police Service reallocation of funds.

In the City of Calgary’s recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey, 41 per cent of respondents wanted the city to invest more in the Calgary Police Service. That number was down 13 per cent from the Fall 2019 survey.

In that survey, 87 per cent of respondents also perceived Calgary as a safe place to live. With that said, 92 per cent said crime has increased (33 per cent) or stayed the same.

Respondents also rated the Calgary Police Service as the fourth most important service. That’s behind the Calgary Fire Department, Calgary 9-1-1 and quality drinking water.

The province, including Minister Madu, have been very vocal about problems they have with a change in the Calgary police budget.

Last year, however, the province made changes to the portion of fine revenue it collects. That left the Calgary police $13 million short, according to Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld’s estimate at the time.

‘Lack of judgment’

In a release issued Wednesday morning, Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal, recently appointed to the Calgary Police Commission and chair of the city’s public safety task force, said he was astonished by Minister Madu’s “astonishing lack of judgment” in making those remarks in the paper.

“Since his election in 2019 and is appointment as Minister, (Madu) has repeatedly demeaned Albertans while making no effort towards constructive and unbiased engagement,” Chahal said.

“He demonstrates total disregard and disrespect for those with differing opinions.”

Chahal said he believes that as justice minister – the province’s chief law enforcement officer – empathy, compassion and seeing all Albertans equal before the law is important.

“The disdain expressed toward ‘activists’ is a clear expression of bias, not to mention hypocritical,” Chahal said.

Chahal went further, challenging Minister Madu to openly campaign against any councillor he “perceives as a political inconvenience and let Calgarians pass judgment.”

“Resorting to dog whistle politics to deflect from government failures might be good strategy, but I believe Calgarians are more thoughtful than the Minister gives them credit for,” Chahal said.