Gondek sworn in as Calgary's mayor, declines to administer oath of office to Sean Chu

Calgary's first female mayor was sworn into office on Monday, and she administered the oath of office to all of her city council colleagues except one: embattled Coun. Sean Chu.

Calgary's new city council made official on Monday afternoon at City Hall

Jyoti Gondek, pictured after the city's swearing-in ceremony on Monday at City Hall, is Calgary's first female mayor. She has a PhD in urban sociology, worked in consulting and led the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business before entering politics. (City of Calgary)

Calgary's first female mayor was sworn into office on Monday, and she administered the oath of office to all of her city council colleagues except one: embattled Coun. Sean Chu.

Jyoti Gondek defeated 26 challengers for the mayor's seat in the city's municipal election Oct. 18. She had the most votes in all 14 of the city's electoral wards, according to official results of the municipal election released Friday.

She took the oath of office at City Hall from Justice John Rooke, the Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench.

  • WATCH | Calgary's new mayor swears in councillors, except for one

Jyoti Gondek refuses to swear in beleaguered councillor Sean Chu

2 years ago
Duration 1:41
Calgary's new mayor swore in 13 of Calgary's 14 councillors at the ceremony Monday afternoon. She deemed it inappropriate for her to accommodate Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu after details of a 1997 sexual encounter with a minor surfaced just before he was elected.

"Now, I can call you 'your worship,'" Rooke said to Gondek — prompting loud applause from those in attendance — after her husband, Todd Gondek, had placed Calgary's mayoral chain of office around her neck.

Gondek then administered the oath of office to all newly elected and incumbent city council members except Ward 4's Chu, who was sworn in by Justice Rooke, instead.

Jyoti Gondek, front row third from left, poses with her council after being sworn-in as the new mayor of Calgary in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 25. (Jeff McInstosh/The Canadian Press)

'It did not seem right to me'

Like most members of council, Gondek has recently called for Chu to resign his seat following reports that the Calgary Police disciplined him for having physical contact with a 16-year-old girl in 1997 while he was a police constable.

Last week, Gondek said Chu could "absolutely show up" to the swearing-in ceremony — but he wouldn't be sworn in by her.

"I didn't want to swear [Chu] in. It did not seem right to me," Gondek said after Monday's ceremony. "The justice was willing to do it, and I felt that was more appropriate."

Gondek administered the oath of office to all newly elected and incumbent city council members except Ward 4's Sean Chu, pictured right, who was sworn in by Justice John Rooke, left. (City of Calgary)

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

In a written statement provided to CBC News, Chu's ex-wife recently said he never physically threatened her or their children but she worried at the time he might harm himself. 

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

"This came out just before the election and you cannot help yourself. Any common-sense person was going to think the same thing, that this is … character assassination," he said Thursday.

He said he will not resign and intends to serve what he says will be his final term on city council.

WATCH: Coun. Sean Chu addresses controversy at a press conference last week.

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

2 years 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.

The controversy sparked two rallies on Sunday.

One was organized by a group called Resign Chu and held at Olympic Plaza with hundreds in attendance, including Gondek.

The other was held 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.

Protesters calling for Chu to resign face off across the street from some of his supporters in Calgary on Sunday. Chu was found guilty of discreditable conduct by the Law Enforcement Review Board for touching a 16-year-old girl's leg when he worked as a Calgary police officer in 1997. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

11 new faces join city council

Chu was among just three of the five incumbent councillors who held on to their seats in the municipal election.

The others were Gian-Carlo Carra in Ward 9 and Peter Demong in Ward 14; Joe Magliocca lost in Ward 2 as did Diane Colley-Urquhart in Ward 13.

Calgary's new city council has more candidates who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour). It also has five women, compared with three on the previous council.

"That's obviously not parity but it's a whole lot better than we've done in recent past. At present, six of 15 are racialized Calgarians," Maclean's correspondent Jason Markusoff said on News at 11 last week.

"That's a high-water mark for a city that has a pretty big history of electing only white people."

Gondek said Monday it will be her responsibility to make sure that everyone on council feels heard and puts together ideas that allow the city to move forward.

"All of us are incredibly proud of what we've accomplished and we are looking forward to celebrating this day as ours, so I'm choosing to focus on that today," Gondek said.

Calgary's new city council sworn in on Monday is composed of:

  • Ward 1: Sonya Sharp.
  • Ward 2: Jennifer Wyness.
  • Ward 3: Jasmine Mian.
  • Ward 4: Sean Chu (incumbent).
  • Ward 5: Raj Dhaliwal.
  • Ward 6: Richard Pootmans.
  • Ward 7: Terry Wong.
  • Ward 8: Courtney Walcott. 
  • Ward 9: Gian-Carlo Carra (incumbent).
  • Ward 10: Andre Chabot. 
  • Ward 11: Kourtney Branagan. 
  • Ward 12: Evan Spencer.
  • Ward 13: Dan McLean.
  • Ward 14: Peter Demong (incumbent). 

Ward 3 councillor Jasmine Mian is one of the youngest members on council and says since Calgary is primarily a young city, its important to have this perspective reflected.

"The future of Calgary is a place where none of us have ever been but its a place where we all have a huge stake in and I think having younger people on council will bring in that longer term vision," she said.

Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, attendance at the ceremony was limited.

The event took place in a mostly empty council chamber.

With files from Scott Dippel, Meghan Grant, Sarah Rieger, Elise Stolte and The Canadian Press