Braid: Chu Gets Deep Freeze Admission from Gondek Council

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Chu will lead a lonely political life at the town hall

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Swearing-in ceremonies are usually boring and predictable affairs.

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Calgary was an extended-release melodrama.

Tensions mounted on Monday as one councilor after another took the oath of Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

It soon became clear that Sean Chu from Ward 4 would be the last. Everyone was waiting to see what was going to happen.

Finally, Gondek stepped away from the podium where she had supervised the oaths. She invited again Judge John Rooke, who had sworn her in earlier.

Chu stepped onto the podium, promised to be a good and diligent advisor, and took his seat on the board.

That was it. Chu was not sentenced during the ceremony. He also didn’t offer a defense or challenge.

It was a searing public rebuke. I am not aware of another swearing-in in Alberta where an elected official, although legally accepted because there is no alternative, received such a scathing public insult from the political leader.

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Chu will lead a lonely political life at the town hall.

He was sanctioned in 2003 as a police officer for prior sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl, saying he believed she was older.

When that came out, very late in the election campaign, he still won Quarter 4 by a hair’s breadth. His support for advanced polls plunged after the articles appeared.

Gondek would love to fire him now. The same would be true for most of the other advisers. They don’t want this symbol in front of them for the next four years.

Councilor Sean Chu at the swearing-in ceremony at Calgary City Hall on Monday, October 25, 2021.
Councilor Sean Chu at the swearing-in ceremony at Calgary City Hall on Monday, October 25, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia

The copious published documentation shows that Chu took advantage of the official conclusion that he was telling the truth and that the girl was lying.

The Presidential Inspector of Police who imposed the disciplinary sentence in 2003 (a woman, it must be said) said at the hearing: a transcript of the decision.

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She said of Chu, “I find Agent Chu to be blunt in his description of details and I find his testimony to be credible.

He admitted to having sexual foreplay with the girl in the living room of his house.

And that’s what infuriates Gondek and the other advisers.

The facts were clear enough that Chu was convicted of one count of improper conduct. And yet, at the same time, the girl was not to be believed.

I have spoken to some very experienced retired police officers in Calgary – good people who have served this city well. While uncomfortable about the matter, they insist that the scrutiny is “incredibly intense” when an officer gets involved with a girl under the age of 18.

“It’s a real wake-up call,” said one of them, “a total no-no.”

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But Chu got office time and a letter of reprimand which was eventually lifted. He entered politics, first trying to get a Progressive Conservative nomination and then running for council.

The big question is whether he should pay now for what he did then. It’s the last wedge sunk into the heart of our politics, so sharp that it disrupts the launch of the most interesting new advice we’ve seen in many years.

Councilor Sean Chu at the swearing-in ceremony at Calgary City Hall on Monday, October 25, 2021.
Councilor Sean Chu at the swearing-in ceremony at Calgary City Hall on Monday, October 25, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia

Some people think Chu took his meds back then and we should just let it be. Some say it’s a concocted media thing, scheduled for the election. (I would love to condemn them to a few hours of reading the documents.)

Then there are the women and men who say that such behavior can no longer be tolerated, whether contemporary or past.

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This is the spirit that underlies First Nations Truth and Reconciliation and the national outrage over the Indian residential school graves of Aboriginal children. It shines brightly in the many women who have been sexually assaulted, insulted or belittled.

They won’t take any more. They will not remain silent about behavior that develops in silence.

And so, these newly elected politicians were ready to focus on Chu just as their own victories should have been celebrated.

If some Calgarians don’t like it, Gondek and his new board really don’t care.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Calgary Herald.

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

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