Embattled Coun. Sean Chu won’t step down from office; mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek says he ‘won’t be sworn in by me’

Click to play video: 'Sean Chu says he won’t resign as Calgary ward 4 councillor'
Sean Chu says he won’t resign as Calgary ward 4 councillor
Ward 4 incumbent city councillor Sean Chu says he will not step down despite continued calls for him to resign as pressure mounts from the majority of his council colleagues. Adam MacVicar reports – Oct 21, 2021

Embattled Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu will not be stepping down following calls to do so in the days surrounding the municipal election.

“I will continue to serve as the Ward 4 city councillor,” Chu told reporters outside his office Thursday.

And he plans to attend Monday’s swearing-in ceremony.

The comments come hours after Calgary’s new mayor said she won’t take part in swearing-in an embattled councillor.

“I will not be participating in having him sworn in to council,” Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek said Thursday. “He can absolutely show up. He won’t be sworn in by me.”

Chu is facing increased pressure to resign, including earlier comments from the mayor-elect and nine of his fellow councillors-elect following the CBC News story about an investigation into Chu’s conduct as a Calgary police officer involving a minor.

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“I have called for him to resign. Most members of the new council have called for him to resign. The premier has called for him to resign, as has (Municipal Affairs) Minister McIvor. Chu should absolutely resign,” Gondek said.

Thursday afternoon, Chu detailed a pair of incidents that have been the subject of recent reports, including allegations of impropriety with a minor that came to light via a CBC News story.

Less than a week before entering his third term as councillor, Chu said he didn’t share the incidents with his electorate because he thought they weren’t relevant.

“This happened 24 years ago and the case (was) resolved at that time, and I believe that has nothing to do with being a councillor,” he said.

Chu said at the time he took an hours-long polygraph test, which he said he passed. He said a “thorough investigation was conducted.”

“I considered the matter to have been investigated, a penalty applied and served, and the incident now resolved.”

Chu expressed regret to the woman from that 1997 incident.

“I want to apologize to the woman. It was never my intention to cause any harm.”

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Following Coun. Chu’s comments, Gondek maintained her stance on refusing to be part of Chu’s swearing-in ceremony.

“I cannot see myself being able to swear in someone who’s got this cloud over them,” she told Ted Henley on Global News Radio 770 CHQR.

Gondek calls on province to ‘step up’

The mayor-elect is also calling on the province to use its powers under the Municipal Government Act and the Local Authorities Election Act.

“But I would recommend that Bill 52, which is the recall legislation that has been given royal assent but it’s yet to be proclaimed. If it is proclaimed, they can take action immediately.

“We have talked for a long time about council and the provincial government needing to collaborate. This is it. Let’s step up.”

Asked about Chu’s partisan conservative history, Gondek said anyone with a “strong relationship” with him should encourage him to resign given “the gravity of the situation.”

Click to play video: 'Political scientist Duane Bratt weighs in on Calgary municipal election recounts'
Political scientist Duane Bratt weighs in on Calgary municipal election recounts

Gondek also said the matter was an “unfortunate distraction” for a council who wants to get on with the business of running a city.

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“This is a travesty for the young woman that was courageous enough to come forward,” Gondek added. “She needs to put an end to this. She needs to have this taken seriously and he needs to resign in order for that to happen.”

Global News has been able to review two documents from the Law Enforcement Review Board that are part of the case file.

In a statement Wednesday evening, now-CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said he had reviewed the archived documentation of what occurred.

Click to play video: 'More calls for Calgary Coun. Sean Chu to resign amid allegations'
More calls for Calgary Coun. Sean Chu to resign amid allegations

“In relation to incidents in 1997 involving a minor, a criminal investigation was conducted by experts in the sex crimes unit and was passed to an external crown who determined charges were not recommended,” Neufeld said in the statement. “Given the accused was a police officer, he was also subject to further investigation under the Police Act and was found guilty of discreditable conduct.”

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Neufeld also referenced a 2008 incident that occurred while Chu was on personal, unpaid leave.

“The incident was investigated, and given the sensitivities involved, we engaged the Crown in Edmonton and no charges were laid,” Neufeld said.

Chu provides details of two incidents

At the media conference, Chu took the opportunity to tell his side of the story.

Chu said a letter of reprimand was on his Calgary Police Service file and expired years before he was elected to council.

Those counts of discreditable conduct stemmed from a 1997 incident, when Chu said he arrived at the King’s Head Pub on MacLeod Trail with his then-police partner for a “routine check.”

Chu says a woman approached him, showing interest, and they planned for him to return later that evening. Chu says he arrived at the bar after 2 a.m. off-duty and in plain clothes.

“It is a licensed establishment where all personnel are required to be 18 years of age,” Chu said, who reiterated he does not drink alcohol.

Click to play video: 'Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek says she will not swear in embattled councillor'
Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek says she will not swear in embattled councillor

“We agreed we will go to my house and at my house, we engaged in some consensual touching,” Chu claimed. “At one point, she did not wish to continue and I respected her wishes and drove her home.”

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Chu disputed reports that they met in an unlicensed establishment and that the incident included the use of a firearm, calling them “categorically false.” He said his service firearm was in his work locker while he was off duty.

The former police officer said he had never met that young woman before that evening.

In another situation, Chu said a 2008 incident stemmed from a verbal argument with his then wife.

“I was under considerable stress at the time, I was on a leave of absence from the CPS as I was running in the provincial election,” he said.

“She went to the neighbour for help to calm me down. She had no intention of calling the police. It was the neighbour’s decision to call the police.”

Chu admitted to having a secured sports rifle in the basement, adding he did not retrieve the firearm from its storage location at the time.

“As my former wife clearly stated yesterday, at no time ever have I threatened to harm my former wife or my children,” Chu said.

He said the gun’s seizure by police was standard procedure if attending officers think it might be used to harm someone. He said he’s never owned a firearm since.

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“After this incident, I chose to seek counseling for my mental health and stress,” Chu said, calling it a private family matter.

Chu said reports of these incidents were “being used for political motivations” and attacks.

‘A personnel issue’

Chu said because he didn’t have to tell anyone about the incidents upon his election to council in 2013, he didn’t.

“If there were any requirements, I would have. If there’s any criminal charge laid ever, that would be something I have to (disclose),” Chu said.

“It was an internal investigation and I believe it was a personnel issue.”

He said, as a police officer, “often you get lawsuit. All the time. And complaints.”

But he stood behind his record as a CPS officer.

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How will Alberta’s new city councils work with province?

The re-elected Ward 4 councillor maintained he was duly-elected on Monday and is willing to share his side of the story with the mayor-elect.

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“I know she’s busy right now. But if she wanted to hear the whole truth, I will provide that to her.”

He said he is committed to do the work he has been doing as Ward 4 councillor, adding “I will always tell the truth.”

Thursday afternoon, Gondek said Chu’s previous conduct belies the position he holds as councillor.

“Council is comprised of people that Calgarians should be able to trust, and it’s comprised of people that hold leadership positions and positions of authority,” she said.

“When you have someone who used a position of authority in an incredibly tragic manner and damaged a young girl’s life, I have trouble seeing how we can have someone like that acting as an elected official.”

Meantime, late Thursday, the city’s returning officer announced there will not be a recount in Ward 4.

Candidate DJ Kelly had requested one after Monday night’s election, in which Chu won by 52 votes.

A news release said the returning officer “considered the information provided by the candidates and determined that there were insufficient grounds for alleging that the record of the result of the count of votes is inaccurate.”

In an emailed statement, Kelly said: “As a result, I will begin the process of requesting a judicial recount.”

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Three other requests for a recount of results were also turned down – in Ward 3, Ward 9 and the mayor’s seat.

Official Oct. 18 election results will be issued by Elections Calgary before noon on Friday.

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