Organizers of a rally to oust re-elected Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu from office following a 52-vote victory say the issue is bigger than one politician.
Chu, who has so far won Monday’s Ward 4 election, is facing scrutiny after a series of stories published around disciplinary action taken as a result of his contact with a 16-year-old girl in 1994.
The margin of victory was 52 votes and while the campaign of second-place finisher DJ Kelly is in the process of requesting a recount, others are mounting public pressure to force Chu’s resignation.
The group Resign Chu launched immediately after Chu’s unofficial win and now has 684 followers on Twitter. They’ve organized a rally for Sunday at noon at Calgary city hall.
Spokesperson Natasha Kornak, who is a Ward 4 resident, said many ward residents have come to them saying their advanced vote would have been different with knowledge of these stories.
“I think that right now a lot of people who voted in advance, didn’t have the full story and weren’t able to make an accurately informed decision about Sean Chu’s character,” Kornak said.
Kornak said this is a time when the city should be celebrating things like more female councillors, a female mayor – and just getting a reprieve from the campaign.
“It feels like there’s still more work to be done and voters’ voices still haven’t been adequately heard,” she said.
Calls for Chu’s resignation ramp up
After mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek first told LiveWire Calgary on election night that action must be taken if Sean Chu was elected, others have joined the call.
On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver both said that if the allegations were proven true, that Chu should resign.
One by one, newly elected council colleagues suggested Chu should resign.
We had contacted Ward 13’s Dan McLean for his position but hadn’t received a response. McLean posted to Twitter early Thursday morning.
We also reached out to Ward 12’s Evan Spencer for his statement. Other media have suggested Spencer is behind a resignation.
Ward 7’s newly-elected councillor Terry Wong posted to Twitter Oct. 17, shortly after the stories came out.
Wong released a revised statement late Wednesday night. In it, Wong said as the father of three daughters, he finds that type of behaviour abhorrent. Wong said he’d like to see a full investigation into the matter, and what transpired 24 years ago.
“I have reviewed the statements made through both mainstream and social media. If the allegations are true, Councillor-elect Sean Chu must step away from office before the swearing ceremony on Monday, Oct 25,” Wong’s statement read.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Alberta NDP latched on to the story.
Further, the local group Project Calgary had launched an online petition to push for Chu’s resignation. It had 1,954 online signatures at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Chu could potentially face a review by the city’s ethics or integrity commissioners. Pending those results, he could face sanctions. A similar process was used with Joe Magliocca, who is now facing RCMP charges in connection with his city council expenses. Magliocca was asked to deliver a written apology to council, which he said he wouldn’t do.
A resignation cannot be forced as a part of any sanctions.
Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister can order a review into the conduct of a councillor. They could determine a course of action if necessary.
It’s about more than the politician, Kornak said
Kornak said there’s definitely a collective outrage burbling under the surface about not being able to make an informed decision on a candidate.
And while this situation involves Sean Chu, Kornak said that it goes beyond just one politician.
“It’s about the culture we have not only in politics, but just in our broader society in which sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, all the way up to sexual assault goes unpunished, and goes with no consequences. The perpetrators go without any consequences,” she said.
“Ultimately what this really is about is about accountability and what Calgarians will accept from their elected officials.”
The issue transcends political boundaries, Kornak said. The coalition behind the rally breaks across political stripes and isn’t connected with any candidates or any political action group. She said it’s concerned citizens who are demanding action.
While a resignation would be seen as a victory, it’s important to keep the issue of sexual violence front and centre, Kornak said.
“Sean Chu, right now, is emblematic of a broader problem. His resignation is certainly in order, but at the same time, Sean Chu was not the first person to be accused of something as grotesque as the allegations against him, and he won’t be the last,” she said.
A call was made to Sean Chu and a message was left. No response has been provided. A splash page has been left on Chu’s re-election website. It states he’ll be honoured to serve the residents of Ward 4 again.