Calgary city council’s integrity commissioner found that Coun. Jeromy Farkas had breached city council’s code of conduct.
The issue dates back to Dec. 17, 2018, when Farkas posted a photo on social media that showed two vote tallies on freezing councils’ pay, as well as council receiving a five per cent pay cut. The photo’s caption also stated that council was due for a 2.3 per cent wage increase in 2019.
The post came after councillors had a lengthy debate about the salary change where new numbers were presented showing that instead of an increase, councillors would be seeing a decrease of 0.2 per cent. A councillor’s pay is based on the average Alberta weekly earnings.
Councillors noted the scorecards represented in Farkas’ post were inaccurate, and Farkas was ejected from the meeting. Farkas was asked to apologize for his post, but after he refused to do so, council members went to the integrity commissioner to complain.
Current integrity commissioner and former justice Sal Lovecchio’s report was released on Monday. In the report, Lovecchio outlines the delays with the investigation and the failed attempts to find a resolution to the matter.
Lovecchio added that his ruling on the matter is quite straightforward — Farkas has breached the city council’s code of conduct.
“Providing misleading information to the public, particularly when it misrepresents actions taken, or in this case, not taken by the members of council, in my view undermines public confidence in city governance,” he said.
“As such, I am of the view councillor Farkas breached article 11 of the code of conduct.
“The real issue here is what the sanction should be — that to me is quite straightforward, he should remove the post, which he has already done… and he should apologize unequivocally. ”
Farkas however, refuses to do so.
“There is no way that council can compel this from me. I’ve stated that I stand by what I said,” Farkas said following the release of the report.
“I’m disgusted that this long-settled issue has not been dropped at a time when Calgarians are fighting for their lives and facing financial catastrophe.”
Fellow councillor Gian Carlo Carra is also speaking out on the report, noting that he isn’t satisfied with Farkas’ refusal to apologize on the matter.
“It is galling that what is before us today is a report from an independent third party stating that Coun. Farkas has violated section 11, and Coun. Farkas’ remarks are that he feels violated rather than apologetic,” he said.
“It speaks to my statement that we are living in a post-truth world.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also outlined his confusion surrounding Farkas’ reaction to the sanction, noting that the obvious response would be to apologize for the matter and move on.
“If you’ve been found by an ex-judge to be in violation of the rule, and the only thing he’s asking you to do is say two little words, ‘I’m sorry,’ you should just do it,” Nenshi said
“Thumbing your nose at the process and assuming you’re above the process and you’re above the law and you can say whatever you want without any possible ramifications, that’s something for the voters to decide.
“Is that someone you want representing you?”