Premier Danielle Smith’s office has instructed government officials to take a fresh look at allegations made against Coun. Sean Chu.
In a statement, the prime minister’s office said the deputy ministers of justice and public security had been tasked with reviewing Chu’s 1997 police misconduct investigation. They must determine “whether any further action should be taken,” according to the statement.
Council voted Tuesday to send the Calgary Police Commission’s review of Chu’s case to the premier, requesting that she delegate a review to the proper department.
“These allegations are serious and we do not take them lightly,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office. “Electoral representatives at all levels must conduct themselves in all matters with the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct.”
The Council sent a similar request to the province after the September 2021 election after media reports revealed that 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.
Ric McIver, who was minister of municipal affairs at the time, received a legal opinion last November that the province did not have the power to remove Chu from his democratically elected post, especially for matters that happened before he was elected.
What has changed since then is the Calgary Police Commission’s review of the file, which found police made mistakes while handing over the sexual assault investigation into the Ward 4 councilor when he asked a member of the Calgary- police service was.
The board only asked the county to review the 1997 assault allegations, and did not touch on another revelation that came to the board Tuesday.
During the meeting, Mayor Jyoti Gondek revealed that Chu had shared a photo of her license plate with a member of the public. Chu admitted to taking and sharing the photos, which he took in the city’s secure parkade.
The revelation drew additional outcry from many, including the mayor’s former political rival Jeromy Farkas, who condemned Chu’s actions on social media Tuesday.
“This latest issue really perpetuates a dangerous pattern of behavior unbecoming of the city council, let alone any position of authority,” said Farkas, who previously served a term as Ward 11 councilor before running an unsuccessful launched a mayoral bid in 2021.
Farkas said he has worked with Chu in the past but now distances himself from him, saying Chu’s actions crossed a line.
“I can’t believe I have to say this,” Farkas said in an interview with Postmedia on Wednesday. “It is wrong, wrong and wrong. But if anyone out there, especially conservatives, is willing to turn a blind eye just because you don’t like the mayor’s politics, you need to get your head checked.”
Farkas said Chu’s position on the council is now untenable in his opinion, and he is calling on the province to remove him from office.
“Premier (Danielle) Smith and (Minister of Municipal Affairs, Rebecca) Schultz, they must act now to remove him or else be complicit enablers,” Farkas said. “They have legal oversight of this board and its board members, and they have to do something.”
Chu left Tuesday’s board meeting without speaking to reporters. When contacted for comment on Wednesday, he said he was on his way to a meeting and could not speak.
The mayor said Tuesday that Chu’s actions put her safety at risk, but details about what steps were taken to ensure her safety remain unclear. In an emailed statement, the city said it could not publicly discuss any of its security details, including whether or not any security investigations had been undertaken.
Chu said at Tuesday’s council meeting that he now parks in a public parkade.
A spokesperson for the Calgary Police Service confirmed the law enforcement agency was not informed of the license plate incident and is not involved in any way.
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Former City Councilman Brian Pincott served for 10 years, including four years with Chu. He said the board may be struggling with how to censure Chu, but believes there are things that can be done.
“As a city councilor, your key card gets you a lot of places,” Pincott said. “So if you think about the safety, not only of other city council members, but of city staff, remove his access so he can’t just wander anywhere in the municipal building he wants to wander.”
Pincott said the decision in October to let Chu return to work on city committees and boards after a year of censure is not what he would have done.
“Honestly, it’s not like he’s really contributing to the committee anyway,” Pincott said. “It’s a derogatory thing to say, but that’s my experience.”
Pincott said the council could also do more to make things uncomfortable for Chu, such as revoking other parking privileges and his ability to pay for meals. He also suggested that the board member call in to all meetings remotely.