Pressure continues to mount for Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu to step down, with former and future colleagues speaking out Wednesday.
Chu has been under fire after a CBC News story that focuses on an internal misconduct investigation that was done when he was a Calgary Police Service officer in 1997.
The CBC story alleges he had inappropriate contact with a minor.
Outgoing Mayor Naheed Nenshi took to social media on Wednesday night and called for Chu to resign or for the province to step in.
“It’s simple. He must step down. If he does not, then the provincial government must act using powers under the Municipal Government Act to remove him.
“They’ve spent years threatening school boards with dismissal. Can’t have cold feet now,” Nenshi tweeted.
“And no, this is not (just) about ‘stuff that happened a long time ago.’ It’s about what he said when the first story came out last week, and what voters did not know when they voted.”
The majority of Calgary’s incoming city council has also spoken out, including Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek, who said on Tuesday that Chu should make the decision to “step away” so council can begin their term.
Sonya Sharp, Jennifer Wyness, Jasmine Mian, Raj Dhaliwal, Courtney Walcott, Gian-Carlo Carra, Kourtney Branagan, Evan Spencer, as well as Peter Demong have issued statements or tweeted that Chu shouldn’t continue his role on council.
Ward 6 councillor-elect Richard Pootmans also confirmed to Global News that he too feels, pending an investigation, that Chu should resign.
Andre Chabot, the councillor-elect in Ward 10 who served previously on council with Chu, said Chu would need to step down “if those facts are substantiated.”
“If these allegations bear out, then I think it would be best for the city and for council if Sean Chu resigned,” Chabot said.
Incoming councillor in Ward 11, Branagan, said the situation comes down to accountability, and the new council gaining the trust of Calgarians to govern.
“We are addressing real systemic challenges here,” she said Wednesday.
“And the solution is for those who are in power and who have abused power to accept the consequences of their actions.”
Wednesday evening, Ward 7 councillor-elect Terry Wong issued a statement calling the behaviour “abhorrent” and called for Chu to “step away from office before the swearing ceremony” if the allegations are true. Wong also called for a judicial investigation.
Thursday morning, Ward 13 councillor-elect Dan McLean shared his opinion on Twitter, calling the entire situation “deeply troubling.”
“It seemed prudent to talk with Mr. Chu before commenting but I have yet to hear back,” McLean tweeted. “I am hopeful that he will speak out soon and make the right decision.”
Police chief weighs in
Calgary Police Service Chief Mark Neufeld said he first learned about the allegations through news reports on Friday and said he felt “shocked and concerned.”
According to Neufeld, he reviewed the documentation related to the incident and found “the allegations were taken seriously and followed the process that was in place at that time.”
However, in a statement, Neufeld said the finding “in no way absolves Mr. Chu of the deep disappointment his actions hold.”
According to Neufeld’s statement, released Wednesday evening, Chu was found guilty of discreditable conduct under the Police Act and the Calgary Police Service has had no involvement in the matter since 2007.
Neufeld, who was not police chief at the time, also said internal procedures to investigate incidents have evolved since the original incident in 1997.
“As a service, we are committed to accountability and transparency.
“We know moments like this create questions from the public, as they should,” Neufeld said. “That is why I have already made significant moves to enhance our processes and our reporting in relation to internal investigations and will continue to push for more.”
Chu did not respond to Global News’ request for comment on Wednesday.
However, he released a statement in response to the story on Sunday.
“As many of you will have heard, there are serious allegations being made publicly against me based on a CBC News story that was released on Friday. These allegations misrepresent the truth of the matter and come at a time meant to hurt me the most in this campaign.”
Legal authority to step in
On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver agreed Chu should resign if the allegations are proven to be true.
However, both said the province doesn’t have the legal authority to step in.
Official Opposition leader Rachel Notley urged the province to step in with an inquiry Wednesday to delay Chu’s ability to take his seat on city council.
“It’s not that the government’s hands (are) completely tied; they do have authority and I would suggest that they consider it,” Notley said. “In the meantime, that candidate should reconsider whether or not he wants to step aside.”
Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said there isn’t any authority for the province to remove Chu from his post.
However, Williams said she feels voters didn’t have all the information at their disposal at the ballot box.
“There’s been an interference with the will of voters.
“They weren’t able to cast informed ballots, they did not have the information to do so.
“And so there’s been a democratic interference that doesn’t violate any law, but does certainly violate the principle of democratic transparency and accountability.”
One of those voters, Natasha Kornak, is now one of several Calgarians who are organizing a rally to call for Chu’s resignation on Sunday on the steps of city hall.
“When he was a police officer, he was someone that was supposed to be trusted, and it appears he violated that trust,” Kornak said. “I just don’t feel comfortable with him in that position at all. And I don’t think anyone else should be.”
Chu won narrowly won re-election in Ward 4 by just 52 votes.
A recount at the request of his challenger DJ Kelly will be held on Thursday.
–With files from Global News’ Adam Toy and Radana Williams