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Calgary councillor Farrell files complaint with integrity commissioner over Farkas flyer

A copy of the flyer that has been alleged to have been sent outside the Ward 11 boundaries obtained by Global News. Obtained by Global News

A flyer allegedly sent from the Ward 11 office to other constituencies in the city has prompted Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell to file a complaint to the city’s integrity commissioner.

Farrell told city council on Wednesday night that she has been notified by “a number of people” that a flyer with a city logo from councillor Jeromy Farkas’ office about the Guidebook for Great Communities was sent to homes in several wards across the city.

Farrell said she heard accounts of the flyer “going to Ward 2, in Ward 4, in Ward 8, in Ward 9, (and) Ward 13.”

“I have filed an Integrity Commissioner complaint,” Farrell said. “We’re here to represent our ward, not the entire city, and I found that immensely inappropriate.”

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Farrell’s comments come after social media posts began to surface this week from Calgarians outside of Ward 11 who claim they received the flyer in the mail.

Multiple people who received the flyer have also reached out to Global News.

Janet Hutchinson has lived in Ward 8 for many years, and said she was surprised to see a flyer from another councillor in her mail last week.

“I expect communications from my city councillor, not from another city councillor; and if he’s communicating in his role as a councillor, I don’t need to hear from him,” Hutchinson told Global News. “If he’s communicating in his role as a candidate for the office of the mayor, then it shouldn’t have City of Calgary information on it.”

Hutchinson said she has also filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner.

“I just think that if Councillor Farkas truly does want to be mayor then has to be above board in everything that he does,” Hutchinson said. “That’s why I sent it into the integrity Commissioner, because I thought we need an answer on this.”

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However, Farkas said if anyone outside his ward received the letter, it may have been an error from Canada Post.

“I did authorize a publication to be provided in my capacity as Ward 11 representative,” Farkas told council. “It’s my duty to provide my views of local planning issues and notify the public regarding proposals.”

Farkas said the flyer included his opinion on the Guidebook for Great Communities, and was informed through city committee meetings, correspondence with constituents and meetings with city administration.

He added that he wanted to emphasize to the public to get informed on the issue.

“It was sent only to Ward 11, and if it was sent to other wards, that would’ve been the error of Canada Post,” Farkas said. “If there was evidence that it was sent elsewhere, I would welcome that from Councillor Farrell or anyone else.”

A copy of the flyer that has been alleged to have been sent outside the Ward 11 boundaries, obtained by Global News. Obtained by Global News

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Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi said because the complaint is in front of the integrity commissioner, it would be inappropriate for the issue to be discussed further. The mayor added he has also heard from people who live outside Farkas’ ward who have received the flyer.

“I don’t mind telling you, Councillor Farkas, that I myself have heard from about a half-dozen citizens outside of your ward that received it from pretty far afield,” Nenshi said. “So you may want to check with Canada Post, they may have overcharged you.”

On Thursday, the mayor said it’s unclear whether the alleged mailing of councillor material beyond their ward runs counter to the council code of conduct.

“I would suggest that councillors get a budget and the budget is meant to be spent on projects in their ward,” Nenshi told reporters. “Can you use that budget to spend money outside of your ward, particularly if you are engaged at the moment in a process where you would like some city-wide acknowledgment and recognition of yourself?

“In other words, if you’re running for mayor and you’re using a budget that’s meant for Ward 11 to spread information outside of Ward 11 with your picture on it.”

Global News reached out to the city’s integrity commissioner Meryl Whittaker for comment on if an investigation had been opened into the flyers.

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According to a city spokesperson, the integrity commissioner is unable to comment until after an investigation and only if the investigation finds that a councillor has breached the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials. The spokesperson added that a report would also be sent to council, which would become public.

However, there won’t be a report filed if an investigation finds there was no breach.

  • With files from Adam Toy, Global News

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