Calgary

'Fever pitch': Rallies for and against Calgary Coun. Sean Chu held at the same time Sunday

Protesters chanted at each other from opposite sides of the street as two rallies — one calling for Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu's resignation, and another defending him — took place in downtown Calgary on Sunday.

Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek attended the rally calling for Chu's resignation

Protestors hold signs at a rally in support of Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu, left, and at a rally calling for his resignation, right. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Protesters chanted at each other from opposite sides of the street as two rallies — one calling for Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu's resignation, and another defending him — took place in downtown Calgary on Sunday.

Chu has been under scrutiny and faced increasing calls for him to step down since CBC News broke the story on Oct. 15 that when he was a 34-year-old police officer in 1997, he faced allegations that involved a 16-year-old girl.

CBC News also reported that Chu was involved in a 2008 fight with his wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm, confirmed through court records.

Chu maintains the matters were investigated and resolved, and that media coverage was politically motivated.

One rally, organized by a group called Resign Chu, was held at Olympic Plaza, with hundreds in attendance. Another group held a rally in his defence across the street at Calgary City Hall, with attendance estimated at roughly half the size, according to a CBC reporter at the scene.

A woman holds a sign at a rally, organized by a group called Resign Chu at Olympic Plaza in Calgary Sunday. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Amanda Hu, a Resign Chu rally organizer and Ward 4 resident, says she wants to know why voters weren't informed of the councillor's past actions, as this is Chu's third time being re-elected.

The Resign Chu Facebook page says rally attendees are Calgarians, including Ward 4 residents and sexual assault survivors, who are demanding that Chu resign.

"This is a fever pitch of an issue that's been happening for a really long time. And I think with the election, it's a really complicated thing because we want accountability," Hu said. 

"He didn't come forward and it was not revealed to us or shown to us. That doesn't make for informed voting," she said. 

She also wants answers from Calgary police as to why the incident was on Chu's file for just five years. Chu was found guilty of discreditable conduct, and his penalty was a letter of reprimand on his Calgary Police Service file for a five-year term, which expired in 2008.

"I hope that public pressure will make him see that he has to do the right thing and that we can see some reform, so this doesn't happen in the future and we maintain democratic processes," Hu said. 

Mayor-elect attends rally

Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek attended the rally calling for Chu's resignation. She has previously said if Chu does not step down before Monday's swearing-in ceremony, she will not administer him the oath of office — and has asked the Alberta government to explore options to remove him if necessary.

Calgary Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek was seen at a rally calling for the resignation of Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

"Today I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sexual harassment and assault. Those who have been reliving the trauma and the challenges of the past need to know that today, and for all the tomorrows that follow, those in power will stand with them in the pursuit of justice," Gondek said in a statement. 

"It is frustrating to be denied the tools to do what is right," she wrote in the statement. "I feel that we were first let down by a culture that ignored victims' voices, and now by a legal structure that removes the levers of power from city council and the mayor's office." 

Rally supports Chu

Attendees of a counter rally in support of Chu largely focused on the fact that the councillor was re-elected in a democratic process. Elections Calgary numbers say Chu defeated DJ Kelly in Ward 4 by 100 votes.

Rally attendees in support of Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu, who has faced increased calls for his resignation. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Cynthia Shieh attended the rally in support of Chu, holding a sign that said the councillor was duly elected. She said she turned out in support of the councillor "because what happened in the past is in the past."

For another rally attendee, Ming Wei, it comes down to what the electoral process determined. 

"As a citizen of Canada, we have to follow these basic principles," he said. 

He said he feels sorry for Chu's past actions, but ultimately Alberta's electoral and justice systems have reached a conclusion. 

In an email to media Saturday, rally organizers issued a statement in support of Chu. 

"We support Sean because he was officially elected by the citizens of Ward 4, despite the dubiously timed media leak of distorted and misleading information just three days prior to election date."

On Thursday, Chu announced he won't be stepping down, as he was duly re-elected and was never criminally charged. 

All of Chu's newly elected and incumbent council colleagues have either called for him to resign or questioned whether it is appropriate for him to serve. There were also hundreds of people using a hashtag calling for his resignation on social media. 

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Chu addressed the two incidents reported on by CBC News. He has since apologized publicly to the now-woman, and to his family.

WATCH: Coun. Sean Chu addressed incidents at a press conference on Thursday.

Chu says he'll be at the swearing-in ceremony despite calls for him to resign

8 months ago
Duration 5:24
City councillor Sean Chu faced reporters to respond to calls for his resignation over two incidents that came to light over the past week. He maintains the matters were investigated and resolved, and that recent media coverage was politically motivated.

"I will continue to serve as the Ward 4 city councillor," Chu said Thursday. 

"I was duly-elected by the people of Ward 4, and I intend to stay at this position to serve the people of Ward 4."

With files from Andrew Brown, Meghan Grant, Hannah Kost

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