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‘I was duly elected by the people.’ Sean Chu refuses to resign Ward 4 seat

A defiant Sean Chu said he wouldn’t resign if declared the Ward 4 winner after Monday’s Calgary municipal election, despite a council around him that believes he should.

Chu owned a 52-vote lead on Ward 4 competitor DJ Kelly, though a recount was being held Thursday at the Elections Calgary offices. The embattled councillor-elect held a press conference at Calgary city hall Thursday afternoon, saying that he’s received support from those residents who voted him in.

“I will continue to serve as the Ward 4 city councillor,” Chu told reporters. He said the story came out on Oct. 15 and that people had the chance to make up their minds before going to the ballot box, Oct. 18.

“I was duly elected by the people. I intend to stay in this position to serve the people.”

Chu wanted to address both of the incidents, saying there was misinformation in some recent reporting on two primary issues. He went through some of what he called “not correct.” (Details start early in the video.)

Earlier in the day, Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek said that should Chu show up to the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, she wouldn’t swear him in.

“He can absolutely show up. He won’t be sworn in by me,” Gondek said.

Further, the mayor-elect called upon the province to work with them to oust Chu from Calgary city council.

Chu said he planned to show up and planned to be sworn in. He said he invites the mayor and other councillors to sit down with him privately to learn about the facts.

The controversy stems from a series of articles from CBC Calgary and CTV Calgary, showing disciplinary action and the background behind it, in a case that involved contact with a 16-year-old girl.

This was while Sean Chu was a Calgary police officer.

Graphic produced by Aryn Toombs / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Firearms story comes out

Another story from the CBC’s Meghan Grant referenced a 2008 off-duty firearms incident involving Chu.

Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld addressed that in a statement late Wednesday evening. Chief Neufeld said the 2008 incident happened when Chu was on unpaid personal leave from CPS.

“I want to be clear; since this incident occurred our processes have evolved,” Neufeld’s statement read.  

“If this were to happen today, the province would be notified via the Director of Law Enforcement. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team would then take on an independent investigation.”

Chief Neufeld also provided comments on the stories around the disciplinary action taken against Chu 24 years ago.

“When I became aware of these serious allegations in the media, I like most members of our community, felt shocked and concerned. This was the first time I learned of the incident,” the statement read.

After a review of the file, Chief Neufeld said the allegations were taken seriously and followed the process in place at the time.

“This in no way absolves Mr. Chu of the deep disappointment his actions hold,” the statement read.

Provincial involvement

Two sections of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (571, 574) do address dismissals.

Section 571 identifies the conditions to initiate an “inspection,” which does include the conduct of an elected member of council.

There is an option to begin an inquiry (MGA-572). Section 574 shows that as a result of the inspection, the province may choose to dismiss a councillor, council or chief administrative officer.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver issued a statement Thursday evening, clarifying their role in this situation.

He said they can’t simply remove an elected councillor. They enlisted non-partisan government officials to review the MGA for application in this case.

“The expert advice I have received from officials states that the tools within the Municipal Government Act – both an ‘inspection’ and ‘inquiry’ – are focused on wrongdoing committed by a council or councillor while performing their duties with respect to the operations of a municipality,” McIver said.

“These elements within the law were not developed to address personal conduct of an elected official dating back many years before that individual entered public office, and it is questionable whether they could be used effectively in the current situation.”

McIver has asked for outside, independent legal counsel to review the legislation and provide expert advice on what action – if any – the Minister of Municipal Affairs may legally take.  They will provide an update and timeline shortly, he said.

Mayor-elect Gondek also said that the province could proclaim Bill 52. It has received royal assent but hasn’t yet been proclaimed into law.

Victim suffering pales in comparison to this situation, Kelly said

Chu’s challenger, DJ Kelly, spoke with LiveWire Calgary about Chu’s decision.

Kelly said given the revelations in the stories by CBC and CTV, it’s critical to keep the victims in focus.

“I want to start, first and foremost, with a recognition of how difficult all of this, and the past several years must have been for Mr. Chu’s victims,” Kelly said.

“Anything that we’re going through related to an election pales next to what they likely went through either on the days in question or in their seeking of justice, after the fact.”

Kelly maintains that Chu must ask himself if he now has the moral authority to lead.

“Mr. Chu is going to have to look inside himself to make a determination of what is appropriate behaviour for a city councillor, and what it looks like to have the moral authority to be able to do the job, that’s in front of him,” he said.

Still, Chu said that he would continue to fight to stay on Calgary city council. He reiterated the claims of the convenient timing of the report prior to the election.

“Any common sense person was going to think the same, that this was political character assassination,” Chu said.

He apologized to his family and to the victim during the conference.