Two Calgary city councillors said they submitted respect in workplace complaints against Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s former Chief of Staff Stephen Carter back in November, just weeks after the municipal election.
Carter, a long-time political strategist and campaign manager behind Jyoti Gondek’s successful mayoral bid was abruptly dismissed Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Carter told LiveWire Calgary that he didn’t know the reasons behind his dismissal. At that time, LWC had confirmed at least two councillor complaints against Carter had been logged.
Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp confirmed Thursday that she was one of the complainants. Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot confirmed he was another. Coun. Sean Chu also filed a complaint, according to Carter.
“It was a rough two weeks of my start to be a councillor, put it that way,” Sharp told LiveWire Calgary.
While Sharp said she was bullied and she filed a complaint, she doesn’t think Carter’s ouster had anything to do with her file.
Initially, Sharp said she tried to deal with the concern on her own. She admitted there is a lot to the situation. She said she didn’t get the resolution she was hoping for at that time.
Chabot said he initially didn’t want to file a complaint but did so after discussing it with colleagues. He said his complaint involved a social media comment made by Carter after Chabot’s vote on the Sean Chu matter.
The Ward 10 councillor said he brought the matter to City manager David Duckworth. Chabot said Duckworth indicated he couldn’t impose sanctions on Carter as he wasn’t a direct city hire.
Carter responds to accusations
On Thursday, Carter told LiveWire Calgary that anyone is able to submit workplace complaints.
He denied the bullying accusation.
“It’s not in my strategic favour to bully councillors,” Carter said.
“I have no leverage.”
Carter said the Chu complaint arose from direction by the mayor to instruct the Ward 4 councillor that she wouldn’t be swearing him in.
The mayor didn’t swear Sean Chu in. He was sworn in by Justice John Rooke.
“Mayor told me to meet with him and gave me the messaging,” Carter said.
Carter thought the Chabot matter had been dropped.
Something must have been done: Chabot
Chabot said his concerns were directed to the city’s ethic adviser.
“What (Carter) did, in my opinion, wasn’t that bad. But some of my colleagues thought it was,” Chabot said.
“They said, ‘you need you need to file a complaint about this guy, because Andre, if you don’t, he’ll just keep doing it.’”
Chabot said upon his re-election to a new council, he didn’t think it was in his best interest to be seen as someone who would cower when these issues arise.
After the complaint, however, Chabot said he didn’t see anything further.
“I never heard from any of my colleagues saying that there were any inappropriate tweets that had been made against me,” Chabot said.
Sharp said it generally takes a longer time for action to be taken on these matters.
“I had issues with bullying, and it was not handled according to what I thought, and then you know, you file a complaint and hope things work out,” she said.
“I don’t know if this is the reason Stephen Carter is not working here.”
Either way, she said she doesn’t tolerate bullying in any form in the workplace. She said she wouldn’t accept it when she worked in city administration and not as an elected official.
When asked, Sharp and Chabot both said they didn’t feel this was politically motivated.
Chabot referred to the overall situation between he and Carter as not being in alignment.
“I don’t think he saw me as directly aligned with him on some of my views,” Chabot said.
“I would say that those people that he saw, as, you know, opposition, whether principled or not, are people that he would tend to antagonize to some degree.”
Sharp said there was no intention of getting anyone out.
“There’s no retribution here,” she said.
“If you truly are being bullied or you’re being harassed or threatened, you can’t put up with that. That’s my line. I just wouldn’t put up with it.”
Mayor Gondek: The investigations should be private
Mayor Gondek’s office initially said she wouldn’t be answering questions on the matter Thursday. We were directed to her comments on the Ryan Jespersen show.
Jespersen asked about Carter, and his connection to the failed arena deal.
“Thank you for the question, I will not be commenting on the dismissal of my Chief of Staff,” the mayor told Jespersen.
On Friday, Mayor Gondek, upon questions about Stephen Carter’s dismissal, reiterated her stance.
“Because it’s a personnel matter, it would be incredibly inappropriate for me to comment,” she said.
When asked if she was aware of the complaints against Carter, the mayor said councillors and administration shouldn’t interfere with any investigation.
“There actually should not be anybody commenting about any investigations. So I will hold to my code of conduct and my ethics and not comments at all,” the mayor said.
Amie Blanchette is the interim Chief of Staff for the mayor right now. Mayor Gondek said a decision on the direction for a new Chief of Staff would be made in the near future.