Deadline passes for Gondek recall petition, results to be made public in 45 days - Calgary |

Deadline passes for Gondek recall petition, results to be made public in 45 days - Calgary

The deadline to sign a petition to recall Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek has passed but the results will not be made public until 45 days later, the City of Calgary said.

In February, the City of Calgary said it received a notice of recall petition against the sitting mayor on Jan. 30 and has verified it complies with the recall criteria laid out in the Municipal Government Act. The recall petition was made public on Feb. 5.

The petition’s organizer, Landon Johnston, had until 4 p.m. on April 4 to collect 514,284 signatures from Calgarians who are eligible to vote, or 40 per cent of the electorate. Johnston previously told Global News the petition was started after the single-use plastics bylaw was passed and then repealed shortly after. He also cited the affordability crisis and the arena deal as reasons he wanted to start the petition.

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Once the petition is submitted to the Elections Calgary office in the city’s northeast, it will kick-start a 45-day process. City clerks and Elections Calgary officials will first count the signatures and if it does reach the threshold, Elections Calgary will start the verification process.

The city clerk will then call a special meeting of council to reveal the results, which isn’t expected until mid-May. If the threshold is met, the city will release the number of verified signatures. If the petition doesn’t meet the threshold, the city will release the unverified number of signatures.

If the mayor is recalled, council will be required to hold a byelection before September.

Johnston says he counted and submitted 72,271 signatures.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Mayor Gondek meets with man who launched recall petition'

Calgary Mayor Gondek meets with man who launched recall petition

“This has been a pretty good representation of what we’ve dealt with the last 60 days. It’s very hard to collect signatures every single day in -10 C, -20 C weather collecting signatures,” Johnston said.

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Johnston added he knew the threshold of 514,284 signatures was an impossible goal but a lot of Calgarians still found a way to sign the petition regardless. He told reporters the recall legislation is flawed and he wants it to be changed.

“This is how important it has been for Calgary residents. It’s been a battle of all angles…. It’s been a whirlwind and a crash course of politics for myself,” he said. “We didn’t get enough for the mayor to resign, but that is more to say about the (recall legislation) than the petition itself.”

Johnston told reporters that all elected officials should be afraid of the “power of the people” and he will continue to push for Gondek to resign.

“I can’t believe the amount of support we’ve had. The mayor should be afraid. All elected officials should be afraid of us. It will only take the legislation to be fair for it to be used as an option for us to hold our elected officials accountable,” he said.

“This legislation should be used all across Canada. It should always be in the power of the people to keep our money in our pockets, to keep our roads safe, to keep our transit safe and this mayor has failed us every step of the way.”

Gondek told reporters at an unrelated news conference on Thursday that the past 60 days were no different from any other day for her as mayor.

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“I made a commitment to serve the people of the city well and work with my colleagues to deliver important projects and services to them. I’ve stayed incredibly focused on that. You cannot be distracted by something that’s going on along the sidelines. You have to remain committed to why you ran. And I ran to make sure that Calgary would have a prosperous future for everyone, and I remain absolutely committed to that,” she said.

However, Gondek said she cannot comment further on the petition until results have been released.

“I don’t know what’s going to be submitted, and I won’t know until the count and validation processes are done. I look forward to the clerk and the chief administrative officer advising me of when we need to have that special meeting of council, and you will all be publicly made aware of that at the same time,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Alberta recall legislation largely ‘symbolic’: Expert'

Alberta recall legislation largely ‘symbolic’: Expert

Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said the most notable thing about the recall campaign is the involvement of organized political groups.

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Documents obtained by Global News in March show a group named Project YYC is helping Johnston with petition efforts.

According to the document, the group wants to create a “big tent coalition” to elect “common-sense conservative” mayors and councillors in next year’s municipal election.

In a release on Thursday, Project YYC called the recall petition a “great achievement,” saying it was “truly a citizen-led initiative.

“From day one, our commitment was to support Landon Johnston’s recall effort, from start to finish, and we proudly stand in support of him today as he delivers the recall petition on behalf of all those who volunteered for and signed the petition,” said Roy Beyer, Project YYC’s executive director.

Williams also said the recall petition is a good way to re-evaluate the recall legislation and address some gaps, including the threshold. While it may be “impossibly high” in a large city like Calgary, it could only amount to hundreds of people in smaller municipalities.

“That sort of disproportion, I think, has to be looked at as well. It gets very, very difficult. You don’t want to make it too easy,” she said. “Nor do you want it necessarily to be as high as it is, and maybe a percentage ought to be different, depending on the size of the constituency or region that’s involved.”

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The province could also define the reasons a recall petition could be started, Williams suggested

“Jyoti Gondek is not the subject of any ethical investigations, much less findings of wrongdoings. There are people who have been the subject of those investigations and findings of wrongdoings. That would be an obvious thing to put on the list of justification for considering a recall,” she said.

“An ethical violation, some serious misconduct, maybe in putting at risk other people on council, engaging in some kind of misconduct that led perhaps to a criminal charge, for example. That’s the kind of thing I think that could very well be a legitimate basis for a recall.”

Williams said that a lot of people are upset at their mayor and councillors, which also needs to be addressed by providing more information about what city council can and cannot do.

“This just looked like an opportune mechanism for people to use to … register that anger, and that has to be taken seriously, even if it turns out that Calgarians are upset with what’s happening in council and they’re focusing on Gondek, or if they are actually angry specifically with the mayor,” she said.


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