Calgary mayor asks minister to call byelection to remove Sean Chu from council

·4 min read
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says she met privately with Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver to discuss Coun. Sean Chu. Gondek has publicly called for Chu's departure from council after CBC News broke a story that he had been found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor in 1997.  (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says she met privately with Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver to discuss Coun. Sean Chu. Gondek has publicly called for Chu's departure from council after CBC News broke a story that he had been found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor in 1997. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says she has requested that Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver call a byelection in an attempt to remove embattled Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu from city council.

"I called on the minister to lead, particularly in the case of Coun. Chu, because he is literally our last resource," Gondek told reporters after her private meeting with McIver.

Chu has faced calls for his resignation after CBC News broke a story days before the October municipal election that he had been found guilty of discreditable conduct when he was a police officer for having inappropriate physical contact with a minor in 1997.

CBC News also reported that Chu was involved in a 2008 fight with his then-wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm — amid fear he might harm himself, according to Chu and his ex.

Gondek and most of council have called for Chu to resign his seat, as well as voting 9-6 not to appoint Chu to a couple of its key committees.

The three-term councillor and his supporters maintain the matters were investigated and resolved with no criminal charges being laid, with Chu saying the recent surfacing of old incidents was politically motivated.

Rebecca Kelly/CBC
Rebecca Kelly/CBC

Chu — who has represented Ward 4 since 2013 — has repeatedly refused to step down, saying he was duly elected by the people of Ward 4 and intends to stay in the position to serve them. He criticized the councillors' moves to sanction him, pointing out there have been no complaints filed alleging he violated council's code of conduct.

Chu won Ward 4 over DJ Kelly by just 100 votes in the October election just days after news of the 1997 incident broke. Kelly has since filed an application for a judicial recount of election results.

After initial appeals for province intervention in October, McIver said he asked non-partisan department officials to review the Municipal Government Act to verify what legal recourse, if any, existed. An Edmonton law firm that was hired to look into the matter said the minister does not have the authority to remove a councillor, particularly for events that took place before they were elected.

Gondek now says McIver has the ability to call a byelection within the Local Authorities Election Act, which would allow citizens of Ward 4 a second vote on their councillor for this term.

"I argued that there was material information that was left out of the advanced polls that would significantly change the results," said Gondek.

However, she says the minister maintains that he should not intervene in matters of whom Calgarians voted for.

"He's got a perspective that's based on legal opinion and he also wants to let democracy run its course," she said.

Disciplined for physical contact with teen

Chu has faced controversy since CBC News broke the story that when he was a 34-year-old police officer in 1997, he faced allegations that involved a 16-year-old girl.

Following an investigation under Alberta's Police Act, Chu was found guilty of discreditable conduct for touching the girl's leg at a restaurant while he was in uniform.

The teen, now a woman, said she was sexually assaulted at Chu's home. CBC News is calling the complainant "HH," because it does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Chu said he did not know HH's age, stating he met her at a licensed establishment where everyone was required to be 18 or older.

The transcript shows the presiding officer believed Chu, including that the two engaged in consensual sexual foreplay at his home, and did not believe Chu's accuser.

Chu was found guilty on one count of discreditable conduct under the Alberta Police Act and a letter of reprimand was placed on his file for a five-year period, expiring in 2008. No criminal charges were laid.

Police called to domestic incident in 2008

News also surfaced that Chu was involved in a 2008 fight with his then-wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm.

At the time, Chu was on unpaid leave from the police force while running in a provincial election for the Progressive Conservatives in Calgary-Buffalo.

Chu said his then-wife didn't call the police on the incident; his neighbour did.

In a statement provided to CBC News, Chu's ex-wife confirmed the incident and said she never wanted to involve police. She said Chu had never physically threatened or harmed her or their children, but she was worried he would harm himself.

Chu said he had a licensed sport shooting rifle stored in a locked cabinet in his home and that, "feeling distraught" in a particularly stressful point in his life, he went to retrieve it but ultimately did not. After that, he said he voluntarily sought counselling.

Ultimately, no charges were laid.

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