Mayor Jyoti Gondek dropped a bombshell on councilors at a special meeting Tuesday when she unveiled Coun. Sean Chu took pictures of her vehicle’s number plates – pictures that later appeared online.
Chu did not deny the allegations and apologized for his actions during the meeting.
The details came out during a special meeting called to discuss Chu’s place on the vice mayor list.
Although a vote was planned to remove Chu from the schedule, he told the board he would voluntarily step away from the role.
Councilors typically take months-long terms serving in the role, which involves attending special events to speak, or standing in for the mayor as chair of council meetings.
Media reports emerging just before Election Day in October 2021 revealed that Ward 4 councilor Chu was reprimanded for inappropriate physical contact with a 16-year-old girl in 1997 while he was a police officer.
At the time, Chu was found guilty of discreditable conduct under the Police Act, but was never criminally charged.
Gondek said she recently learned that Chu would be chairing the Dec. 6 board meeting, which would have seen him recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women.
“Not only am I loath to allow this to happen based on the acknowledged discreditable behavior and other allegations surrounding Coun. Chu, he has further compromised my personal safety over the past year,” Gondek said.
“Since he took photos of my vehicle number plate in a secured area, photos that later surfaced of a member of the public, I am not comfortable associating with Coun. Chu’s office or entrust him with the responsibilities of deputy mayor.”
The mayor took the unusual step of taking the council into a private meeting to brief colleagues before sharing the news publicly.
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Chu admitted the accusation.
“I just want to publicly apologize to the mayor for what I did,” Chu said.
He said he did not want to “bored the public” with his reasoning, but that he would accept his punishment of exclusion from the executive parkade.
Councilors and the Mayor have their own secure parkade which is separate from the public parkade.
Chu also said he had already met with the council’s integrity office and taken a course dealing with “this particular issue”.
He did not make himself available for reporters’ questions after the meeting.
The mayor said she rejected Chu’s apology. Speaking to reporters after the council meeting, Gondek said the license plate photo came to her attention earlier this year, after a member of the public obtained a copy and notified her office via email.
“I didn’t want an excuse,” Gondek said. “I want this man not to be able to do his job. I want him to resign.”
Gondek said she has not filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner, but she knows one has been made because of what he said at the meeting about his training course.
“Someone like that made the complaint,” Gondek said. “I don’t know who it is, but I would think it was someone protecting corporate assets.”
During the meeting, council also voted to send a Calgary Police Commission review of the investigations into the 1997 incident involving Chu to the premier’s office.
The intention is for the prime minister’s office to delegate the review of the file to the most appropriate ministry, and for the government to clearly outline whether they will do anything further and share their decision in “plain language”.
Shovel. Sonya Sharp asked if the council could also send the case of Count. Gian-Carlo Carra’s integrity commissioner report on his undeclared property interests to the provincial government, to receive the same treatment.
Reconsidering the council’s previous direction on that matter required a two-thirds majority, and the proposal failed on a voice vote, with councilors Carra, Courtney Walcott, Richard Pootmans, Jasmine Mian, Kourtney Penner and Raj Dhaliwal against.
Penner said she was a victim of sexual assault herself and broke down in tears as she talked about how the motion against Carra took away from what the board was trying to accomplish in dealing with Chu.
“When we start to lump problems together, and when we start to pile things on top of each other, things lose their meaning,” Penner said. “I think what we dealt with just before that was significant in its own right, and how we are responsible to victims of sexual assault is important.”
Walcott agreed, saying it was wrong to conflate possible financial issues with issues involving sexual assault.
“It’s not the same as the police commission review, and to pretend that it is is very offensive,” he said.
— With files from Bill Kaufmann