Two rallies were held in Calgary on Sunday focused on Ward 4 councillor-elect Sean Chu: one in support of Chu and one demanding he step down.
Demonstrators shouted across Macleod Trail on Sunday afternoon while police stood between the two groups — supporters of Chu on one side and those calling for his resignation on the other.
“He has proven in many ways that he’s a good citizen. He’s a good alderman, and his people obviously want him back in power because they elected him again,” said Les Baisi, who was at Olympic Plaza joining around 200 other Chu supporters.
Across the street, at city hall, around 200 people gathered demanding that Chu resign.
“I think if Sean Chu was really about the people of this city, he would do the right thing and resign,” said Jennifer Elliott.
“I think that Sean Chu should resign on his own. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. I think he should be fired, and I think there should be another investigation.”
Chu is facing pressure to resign following a CBC News story about an investigation into his conduct as a Calgary police officer involving a minor.
According to Calgary’s police chief, Chu was found guilty of one count of discreditable conduct. No criminal charges were laid in the case.
“It’s not perfect. We all have been younger or made a poor decision at some point in our life,” said Bradley Gunning, who was at the pro-Chu rally.
Diana Borak, who was at the other rally, said it’s essential that public officials understand with their greater responsibility comes greater accountability.
“Just because he wasn’t charged with a crime, it doesn’t mean that he’s fit to serve as a person in elected office,” Borak said.
Some Ward 4 residents are calling for another chance to vote. Paula Breeze said the results would have been different if voters had the same information about Chu that they have now.
“I think the community will be divided on an ongoing basis. I think council will be divided on the matter on an ongoing basis. I don’t think that daily issues for Ward 4 can be adequately managed. I do think that our community would not have chosen Sean Chu if every voter had the same information,” Breeze said at the city hall rally.
Chu won by 100 votes. His supporters said the election results must be respected.
“This isn’t meant to be a cakewalk. He represents Ward 4, and Ward 4 wants a fiscal balance in our city and so he’s there to speak for us. I don’t foresee that it’s going to be easy for him, but at the same time, that’s who we have voted for,” Gunning said.
Mount Royal University associate professor Lori Williams predicts Chu will not be able to effectively represent his ward.
“I think that is going to fall to other councillors to try to represent the people of Ward 4 because Sean Chu in many ways will not be able to do that. That’s solely because of his choices. Not just because of his choices from 24 years ago, but his choices in the last week and a half,” Williams said.
On Thursday, Chu said he would not resign, and Calgary’s new mayor-elect said she won’t take part in swearing-in Chu on Monday.
Jyoti Gondek said in a statement on Sunday: “Today, I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Those who have been reliving the trauma and the challenges of the past need to know that today, and for all the tomorrows that follow, those in power will stand with them in the pursuit of justice.”
“It is frustrating to be denied the tools to do what is right. I feel that we were first let down by a culture that ignored victims’ voices, and now by a legal structure that removes the levers of power from city council and the mayor’s office,” she said.
Chu did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.