Calgary

Calgary councillor apologizes for calling colleague an 'ignorant moron'

Following an integrity commissioner investigation, Calgary Coun. Evan Woolley has apologized to his colleague Sean Chu for calling him an "ignorant moron."

Evan Woolley was the subject of an integrity commissioner investigation after Sean Chu complained over comment

Coun. Evan Woolley, left, apologized to Coun. Sean Chu on Monday after an integrity commissioner investigation. (Justin Pennell/CBC, Terri Trembath/CBC)

Coun. Evan Woolley has apologized to his council colleague Sean Chu for calling him an "ignorant moron."

The apology follows an investigation by Calgary's city council integrity commissioner, Meryl Whittaker.  

"I'd like to unequivocally apologize to Sean Chu, city council and Calgarians for the language I used to refer to Mr. Chu," Woolley said on Monday after council emerged from a closed-door session.  

"This was not in line with the highest standards of the office of city council, which I greatly respect."

Woolley posted a tweet about Chu in November 2020 and refused to walk back the comments at that time. Chu filed a complaint with the commissioner. 

Responding to a thread discussing the possibility of reallocating $20 million from the Calgary police budget in favour of agencies that could help those experiencing addiction or mental health issues, Woolley tweeted: "Chu is one of the most ignorant morons on council. Every developer that donates to him is a target that I will push."

During his apology to council on Monday, Woolley said 2020 was the deadliest year for overdoses in Alberta.

"This is a crisis in our community," he said. 

"Not only is it important that we continue to work together to save lives, we must not stand silent when those among us use their public office to further dehumanize and stigmatize people suffering from addictions and undermine efforts to help those people."

The matter is a personal one for Woolley, whose brother died of an overdose.

The integrity commissioner's report to council, released on Monday afternoon, notes that Woolley attempted to use the dictionary definitions of both "ignorant" and "moron" to justify his comments as a factual assessment of Chu.

The commissioner rejected that argument and said even the dictionary states "moron" is considered offensive. 

"While I can appreciate that Coun. Woolley may have strongly held views on Coun. Chu's political commentary, the level of discourse on these issues should be focused on the issues themselves, not on the person," wrote Whittaker. 

"By resorting to name calling, Coun. Woolley has lowered the level of discourse to an inappropriate and disrespectful level." 

Woolley is not seeking re-election in October. 

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