He won’t resign, despite revelations he once inappropriately touched a teenager. Is Calgary stuck with this councillor?

A showdown of sorts looms at Calgary’s city hall Monday as a new mayor is vowing that she won’t swear in a newly re-elected councillor in the wake of revelations he was disciplined as a police officer years ago for touching a 16-year-old girl.The controversy has raised questions about just what can be done with a councillor who experts say faces the prospect of being a political “pariah” — but who refuses to step down.Just days before this week’s municipal elections in Alberta, CBC reported that Coun. Sean Chu, who spent years as a Calgary police officer, was found “guilty of misconduct” for touching the girl’s leg under a table in 1997. The Star has not independently confirmed the report. Through his lawyer, the councillor has denied knowing that the teen was underage at the time.Chu was 34 years old at the time and the girl involved, now an adult, reportedly told the CBC that she’d been sexually assaulted at his home.In the wake of the story, nearly all of those who will be on Calgary’s next council have called for Chu to step down, and the political backlash has gone beyond the municipal level.Premier Jason Kenney, along with Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver, have also said Chu should resign if the allegations are true.Calgary’s mayor-elect, Jyoti Gondek, has said she won’t swear him in Monday, calling the situation “disturbing” and adding that he should “absolutely resign.”Not being sworn in by Gondek doesn’t materially amount to much, but it’s symbolic. Chu will still be a city councillor, although many believe he won’t be an effective one in the wake of the reports. This week, Chu told reporters he would not resign. He contended that the 1997 incident had gone through a “thorough” investigation and resulted in a letter of reprimand staying on his file for several years. “I consider the matter to have been investigated, a penalty applied and served and the incident now resolved,” he said.Chu said that when he was on duty and doing a walk-through, he met the girl at a licensed establishment — the drinking age is 18 — and agreed to return after his shift.He did so, in plainclothes, and they later agreed to return to his home, said Chu. They “engaged in some consensual touching,” he said, adding that she did not wish to continue at one point and so he drove her home. “I want to apologize to the woman,” he said. “It was never my intention to cause any harm.” But Chu faces an uphill battle and a hostile group of fellow city councillors in Calgary and it’s unclear if the province will, or can, attempt to remove him as a representative.“He’s going to be a pariah” on council if he remains, said Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University.Most won’t want to put him on committees and won’t want to work with him, even though collaboration and securing votes is crucial in municipal politics, Williams said.Some have suggested the provincial government simply remove Chu, but the province says it can’t just fire councillors.Williams said there’s a possibility it could if it conducted an inquiry first, although she said the provincial government removing elected members of council raises the prospect of the step being abused in the future.“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “This is uncharted territory.”If Chu remains for the next four years, Williams said, she thinks he’ll keep a low profile.“That will mean he cannot effectively represent the people of Ward 4,” in her estimation, she said. Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver released a statement this week calling the situation “very serious.” However, McIver said it’s unclear whether the province has the power to launch an inquiry and potentially remove Chu, given that he was not convicted of a criminal offence.“I have asked for outside, independent legal counsel to review the legislation and provide expert advice on what action — if any — the minister of municipal affairs may legally take,” McIver said.Meanwhile, a protest against Chu is expected Sunday at Calgary city hall.Kieran Leavitt is an Edmonton-based political reporter for the Toronto Star. Follow him on Twitter: @kieranleavitt

He won’t resign, despite revelations he once inappropriately touched a teenager. Is Calgary stuck with this councillor?

A showdown of sorts looms at Calgary’s city hall Monday as a new mayor is vowing that she won’t swear in a newly re-elected councillor in the wake of revelations he was disciplined as a police officer years ago for touching a 16-year-old girl.

The controversy has raised questions about just what can be done with a councillor who experts say faces the prospect of being a political “pariah” — but who refuses to step down.

Just days before this week’s municipal elections in Alberta, CBC reported that Coun. Sean Chu, who spent years as a Calgary police officer, was found “guilty of misconduct” for touching the girl’s leg under a table in 1997. The Star has not independently confirmed the report. Through his lawyer, the councillor has denied knowing that the teen was underage at the time.

Chu was 34 years old at the time and the girl involved, now an adult, reportedly told the CBC that she’d been sexually assaulted at his home.

In the wake of the story, nearly all of those who will be on Calgary’s next council have called for Chu to step down, and the political backlash has gone beyond the municipal level.

Premier Jason Kenney, along with Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver, have also said Chu should resign if the allegations are true.

Calgary’s mayor-elect, Jyoti Gondek, has said she won’t swear him in Monday, calling the situation “disturbing” and adding that he should “absolutely resign.”

Not being sworn in by Gondek doesn’t materially amount to much, but it’s symbolic. Chu will still be a city councillor, although many believe he won’t be an effective one in the wake of the reports.

This week, Chu told reporters he would not resign.

He contended that the 1997 incident had gone through a “thorough” investigation and resulted in a letter of reprimand staying on his file for several years.

“I consider the matter to have been investigated, a penalty applied and served and the incident now resolved,” he said.

Chu said that when he was on duty and doing a walk-through, he met the girl at a licensed establishment — the drinking age is 18 — and agreed to return after his shift.

He did so, in plainclothes, and they later agreed to return to his home, said Chu. They “engaged in some consensual touching,” he said, adding that she did not wish to continue at one point and so he drove her home.

“I want to apologize to the woman,” he said. “It was never my intention to cause any harm.”

But Chu faces an uphill battle and a hostile group of fellow city councillors in Calgary and it’s unclear if the province will, or can, attempt to remove him as a representative.

“He’s going to be a pariah” on council if he remains, said Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University.

Most won’t want to put him on committees and won’t want to work with him, even though collaboration and securing votes is crucial in municipal politics, Williams said.

Some have suggested the provincial government simply remove Chu, but the province says it can’t just fire councillors.

Williams said there’s a possibility it could if it conducted an inquiry first, although she said the provincial government removing elected members of council raises the prospect of the step being abused in the future.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “This is uncharted territory.”

If Chu remains for the next four years, Williams said, she thinks he’ll keep a low profile.

“That will mean he cannot effectively represent the people of Ward 4,” in her estimation, she said.

Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver released a statement this week calling the situation “very serious.” However, McIver said it’s unclear whether the province has the power to launch an inquiry and potentially remove Chu, given that he was not convicted of a criminal offence.

“I have asked for outside, independent legal counsel to review the legislation and provide expert advice on what action — if any — the minister of municipal affairs may legally take,” McIver said.

Meanwhile, a protest against Chu is expected Sunday at Calgary city hall.

Kieran Leavitt is an Edmonton-based political reporter for the Toronto Star. Follow him on Twitter: @kieranleavitt

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Susan Delacourt: How did the election change Justin Trudeau? We’ll know when we see his cabinet

Justin Trudeau’s most significant cabinet shuffles can be summed up in three names: Donald Trump, Doug Ford and Scott Brison.Those are the three people who have prodded Trudeau into making the biggest changes in his ministerial lineup over the years: Trump and Ford with their election victories in 2016 and 2018, and Brison when he stepped down from his cabinet post in early 2019.Two of the three worked out pretty well. The Brison shuffle, however, lit the fuse for future explosions — the departures within weeks of ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, as well as the resignations of Trudeau’s principal adviser Gerald Butts and the top public servant, Michael Wernick.That track record indicates an important way to gauge the potential for success of whatever cabinet lineup Trudeau unveils at Rideau Hall on Tuesday. This prime minister does his best work, shuffle-wise, when he is adjusting to big events outside his government’s control. Results are more mixed, let’s say, when he is trying to realign forces within it.So it’s worth watching where Trudeau has fixed his sights with his new, post-election team of ministers — outward or inward.Will it be a cabinet designed to tackle big things like climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and the shape of the post-pandemic future? Or will it be mainly a human-resources exercise of promotions, demotions and lateral moves?Much of the speculation has been focused on the latter: who Trudeau intends to put into problem departments such as defence, and which of the current ministers and MPs are due for a step up or a step out.Trudeau has given few signs, either during the election campaign or afterward, that he is making any big shifts in business as usual. Chrystia Freeland is already reinstalled as the deputy prime minister and finance minister. The Liberal campaign platform was little more than an elaboration on the previous budget and speech from the throne.The prime minister’s meetings this week with opposition leaders had a rote feel to them too; terse, boilerplate news releases issued afterward to describe what he said to the other leaders and nothing about what the meetings produced. The statements, much like the election result itself, further fed the idea that Canadians are going to be getting a déjà vu Parliament — as possibly a déjà vu cabinet, too.Elizabeth May was one of those leaders who met Trudeau this week by virtue of her status as the Green party’s leader in the Commons. Of all the opposition leaders in the House, she knows Trudeau the best — they sat beside each other in the back rows when the Liberals languished as the third party in the chamber.With that in mind, I asked May this week whether she got the impression during her half-hour conversation with him that Trudeau had been changed by the election, or whether she expected him to govern differently in this third term.“No,” she said succinctly, “I did not.”May is among a number of opposition MPs invited along as part of the Canadian delegation when Trudeau heads to Glasgow next week for the big United Nations meeting on climate change. She is not sure how optimistic to be about what Trudeau intends to do there.His news releases after the meetings this week listed climate change as one of the issues discussed, but he didn’t give May any hints of big things to come — including a possible change of ministers.Jonathan Wilkinson, the current environment minister, has generally drawn good reviews for the tone he’s struck since assuming the job after the 2019 election. But May and others believe that Trudeau could send a powerful signal by putting Steven Guilbeault on the job. Guilbeault was a prominent environmental activist before he was lured into the Liberal fold and could well be a part of the greening of cabinet if Trudeau is doing an outward-looking shuffle. In fact, any big moves on environment, health, foreign affairs and intergovernmental relations would demonstrate that Trudeau is trying to adjust his cabinet as he did after the Trump and Ford victories — to react to events not totally within his government’s control.Other changes in the cabinet, at defence or to fill vacancies left by defeated ministers (status of women, fisheries and seniors) are more motivated by internal problems within the Trudeau government — as the Brison shuffle was in 2019.Trudeau has used cabinet shuffles throughout his time in office to signal where he’s facing the biggest tests. On Tuesday, he’ll reveal whether the election has broadened or narrowed his horizons — or whether it hasn’t changed him much at all.Susan Delacourt is an Ottawa-based columnist covering national politics for the Star. Reach her via email: sdelacourt@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @susandelacourt

Susan Delacourt: How did the election change Justin Trudeau? We’ll know when we see his cabinet

Justin Trudeau’s most significant cabinet shuffles can be summed up in three names: Donald Trump, Doug Ford and Scott Brison.

Those are the three people who have prodded Trudeau into making the biggest changes in his ministerial lineup over the years: Trump and Ford with their election victories in 2016 and 2018, and Brison when he stepped down from his cabinet post in early 2019.

Two of the three worked out pretty well. The Brison shuffle, however, lit the fuse for future explosions — the departures within weeks of ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, as well as the resignations of Trudeau’s principal adviser Gerald Butts and the top public servant, Michael Wernick.

That track record indicates an important way to gauge the potential for success of whatever cabinet lineup Trudeau unveils at Rideau Hall on Tuesday. This prime minister does his best work, shuffle-wise, when he is adjusting to big events outside his government’s control. Results are more mixed, let’s say, when he is trying to realign forces within it.

So it’s worth watching where Trudeau has fixed his sights with his new, post-election team of ministers — outward or inward.

Will it be a cabinet designed to tackle big things like climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and the shape of the post-pandemic future? Or will it be mainly a human-resources exercise of promotions, demotions and lateral moves?

Much of the speculation has been focused on the latter: who Trudeau intends to put into problem departments such as defence, and which of the current ministers and MPs are due for a step up or a step out.

Trudeau has given few signs, either during the election campaign or afterward, that he is making any big shifts in business as usual. Chrystia Freeland is already reinstalled as the deputy prime minister and finance minister. The Liberal campaign platform was little more than an elaboration on the previous budget and speech from the throne.

The prime minister’s meetings this week with opposition leaders had a rote feel to them too; terse, boilerplate news releases issued afterward to describe what he said to the other leaders and nothing about what the meetings produced. The statements, much like the election result itself, further fed the idea that Canadians are going to be getting a déjà vu Parliament — as possibly a déjà vu cabinet, too.

Elizabeth May was one of those leaders who met Trudeau this week by virtue of her status as the Green party’s leader in the Commons. Of all the opposition leaders in the House, she knows Trudeau the best — they sat beside each other in the back rows when the Liberals languished as the third party in the chamber.

With that in mind, I asked May this week whether she got the impression during her half-hour conversation with him that Trudeau had been changed by the election, or whether she expected him to govern differently in this third term.

“No,” she said succinctly, “I did not.”

May is among a number of opposition MPs invited along as part of the Canadian delegation when Trudeau heads to Glasgow next week for the big United Nations meeting on climate change. She is not sure how optimistic to be about what Trudeau intends to do there.

His news releases after the meetings this week listed climate change as one of the issues discussed, but he didn’t give May any hints of big things to come — including a possible change of ministers.

Jonathan Wilkinson, the current environment minister, has generally drawn good reviews for the tone he’s struck since assuming the job after the 2019 election. But May and others believe that Trudeau could send a powerful signal by putting Steven Guilbeault on the job. Guilbeault was a prominent environmental activist before he was lured into the Liberal fold and could well be a part of the greening of cabinet if Trudeau is doing an outward-looking shuffle.

In fact, any big moves on environment, health, foreign affairs and intergovernmental relations would demonstrate that Trudeau is trying to adjust his cabinet as he did after the Trump and Ford victories — to react to events not totally within his government’s control.

Other changes in the cabinet, at defence or to fill vacancies left by defeated ministers (status of women, fisheries and seniors) are more motivated by internal problems within the Trudeau government — as the Brison shuffle was in 2019.

Trudeau has used cabinet shuffles throughout his time in office to signal where he’s facing the biggest tests. On Tuesday, he’ll reveal whether the election has broadened or narrowed his horizons — or whether it hasn’t changed him much at all.

Susan Delacourt is an Ottawa-based columnist covering national politics for the Star. Reach her via email: sdelacourt@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @susandelacourt

Source : Toronto Star More   

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