Sean Chu removed from committee after navy officer expressed concerns

Following a call from a senior naval officer to Mayor Jyoti Gondek, city council voted to remove Coun. Sean Chu from a committee that links the city with HMCS Calgary.

Commander of HMCS Calgary called mayor about Chu's alleged misconduct in 1997

Sean Chu's involvement on a committee that links the city with HMCS Calgary was revoked after a navy officer called the mayor with concerns about the councillor. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC)

Following a call from a senior naval officer to Mayor Jyoti Gondek, city council voted to remove Coun. Sean Chu from a committee that links the city with HMCS Calgary.

On Oct. 25, city council named Chu to be one of its representatives on the Friends of HMCS Calgary committee.

The city committee is composed of military officials, civilians and council members. Its task is to oversee its relationship with and promote awareness of HMCS Calgary, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate that bears the city's name.

But days after Chu's appointment, the ship's commanding officer tells CBC News that he learned about controversy surrounding Chu's alleged inappropriate physical contact with a 16-year-old girl in 1997.

It was at that point that Cmdr. Adriano Lozer said he decided to call Mayor Jyoti Gondek about the matter.

His message was straight forward.

"Until we understood more about the continued public scrutiny and the survivor concerns over the final outcome of his historical sexual misconduct allegations, that we could not have an informal or formal relationship with the councillor," said Lozer.

As commanding officer, Lozer said he needed more time to figure out how to handle the situation.

He said he respects the work of the committee appointment process and that he did not want to interfere with the work of elected officials.

But Lozer said he chose to act because he owes that much to the navy and his 265 crew members, some of whom are victims or survivors of sexual harassment.

So, he said staying silent wasn't an option.

"That would not be true to our values and ethics and I would be letting down people in my organization," said Lozer.

"In this case, there is a lot of public scrutiny and information and survivor concerns."

Lozer didn't have a timeline for how long it might take him to review the situation.

Mayor Gondek confirms she spoke with Lozer.

Cmdr. Adriano Lozer, centre, shared his concerns regarding Coun. Chu's involvement on a committee that links the city with HMCS Calgary. (Government of Canada)

"He was incredibly concerned about the appointment council had made to the HMCS Calgary committee and during that meeting, he said to me that we would not be able to engage with this member of council," said Gondek.

As a result, she shared that concern with other council members.

A few days later, members held a closed session in which council appointments were being discussed for another reason.

The members had to change some council appointments as Coun. Dan McLean decided to resign his committee work following another controversy.

In that meeting, Gondek said committee chose to remove Chu from the HMCS Calgary committee and replace him with Coun. Kourtney Penner.

Gondek said it was a timely decision as last week, Lozer and other members of the ship's crew were in Calgary as part of Remembrance Week commemorations, which would inevitably have them meeting with the committee members.

But she said the episode shows the difficulties arising from Chu's decision to ignore calls for him to resign as councillor.

"There are organizations outside of the City of Calgary that take their code of conduct and their ethics very seriously and their commitments to survivors of sexual assault," said Gondek.

"When we are dealing with third parties, we will need to be incredibly careful."

Lozer said the council decision to replace Chu on the committee ends the matter from his perspective.

CBC News contacted Chu to seek his perspective on the situation. However, he has not responded.

Chu may soon lose another one of his council responsibilities.

Each year, councillors are designated to act as the deputy mayor as part of a monthly rotation.

Chu's turn this year is December.

On Tuesday, council will discuss whether or not he should be given that responsibility or if he should be replaced as deputy mayor.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has worked for CBC News in a number of roles in several provinces. He's been a legislative reporter, a news reader, an assignment editor and a national reporter. When not at Calgary's city hall, it's still all politics, all the time.