Calgary

Council votes to eject Farkas from meeting after 'dishonest' Facebook post

Coun. Jeromy Farkas has been ejected from Monday's city council meeting for what Mayor Naheed Nenshi described as a "dishonest and irresponsible" Facebook post.

It was a 14-1 vote, with Farkas the sole vote in his own favour

Calgary city council, led by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, met behind closed doors last spring to learn a thing or two about how to work together better. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Coun. Jeromy Farkas has been ejected from Monday's city council meeting for what Mayor Naheed Nenshi described as a "dishonest and irresponsible" Facebook post.

The Ward 11 councillor posted that in rejecting a salary freeze for 2019, council would be putting itself in line for a 2.3 per cent pay increase.

But, Nenshi told council that post is outdated and contradicts newer information presented today by the city's acting chief financial officer Carla Male that showed council's pay will actually drop by 0.2 per cent next year.

"That information is dated Nov. 21. You had information today, Dec. 17, a full month later. And frankly, to rely on the old information … when there is newer information is dishonest and irresponsible," Nenshi said.

He said Farkas' post appears to have breached council's code of conduct. 

"What we have in this Facebook post is not just spin, it's untrue," Nenshi said.

Nenshi asked Farkas to retract what he said and apologize, and when Farkas refused, saying the final number for next year still isn't known, council voted in favour of a motion to eject him from the meeting.

Council's pay is adjusted annually and tied to average weekly earnings in Alberta from Statistics Canada. The actual adjustment for their 2019 salaries will be known later this week.

The vote was 14-1, with Farkas the sole vote in his own favour.

The councillor doubled down on Twitter shortly after he was ejected from the meeting, saying the voting record is public knowledge and he's standing by his post of the weeks-old numbers, saying he'll post updated information when he receives it — even though updated information was presented at council that day.

"I need that official information from human resources in writing," he told reporters.

He said he wanted to put off the vote until Dec. 20, when the official adjustment is known.

Nenshi told council following the vote that citizens deserve better and should not get "riled up" by misinformation. He said it's important councillors always tell the truth.

Coun. Jeromy Farkas was kicked out of a Calgary city council meeting Monday. (Mike Symington/CBC)

It's not the first time Farkas' fellow councillors have accused him of lying or asked him to apologize for remarks he's made. 

Just a few weeks ago, Coun. Jyoti Gondek accused Farkas of lying after he accused his colleagues of bullying him in a closed-door council session.

And he was accused of grandstanding when he first brought the motion for the pay freeze forward, because Coun. Ward Sutherland had already filed a notice of motion on the same issue.

Nenshi told media at the time he thinks Farkas' colleagues are frustrated by repeated "rude" comments the councillor has made outside of council chambers.

Farkas will be allowed to return to the next council meeting, said Nenshi, but Farkas seemed to disagree even on that — telling reporters that unless he apologizes, he won't be able to attend any council meetings for the rest of the term.

The other members of council have signed a complaint about Farkas that will be submitted to the integrity commissioner, Nenshi said.

With files from Scott Dippel

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