Calgary receives a notice of recall petition for Mayor Jyoti Gondek

The City of Calgary announced Monday that it had received a notice of recall petition against Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

It was reviewed and deemed to be compliant under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) following its filing on Jan. 30, the city says.

The act was updated by the Alberta government in 2022 to allow eligible voters to file petitions to recall politicians, including mayors and municipal councillors.

The city clerk’s office says it’s the first notice of a recall petition that has been received in Calgary since the legislation took effect.

The petitioner, Landon Johnston, has from Feb. 5 to April 4 to collect signatures from a minimum of 40 per cent of Calgary’s population.

Only those who are eligible to vote for the person named in the notice of recall petition — in this case, the City of Calgary’s mayor — are allowed to sign the recall petition.

Elections Calgary says the petition is measured against a population total of 1,285,711, which means 514,284 valid signatures must be collected.

Calgary had just a 46.38 per cent voter turnout in the 2021 municipal election, according to city data — 393,090 voters. The total number of enumerated electors in Calgary is 847,556.

To put into perspective how difficult this would be, the organizer would need 700 to 800 signatures an hour if he worked a 12-hour day.

Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams says despite how impossible of a challenge this would be — it shows the frustration many Calgarians are having with members of council.

“Salary increases, and tax increases, and just the divisions on council — I think it’s just come to a bit of a head and there are some people that are angry and motivated enough to try do something about it,” she said.

According to the MGA, each petition signature must be also be signed by a witness, and recall petitions can’t be signed in digital form.

RELATED: Calgary mayor, council face historically low approval ratings: poll

Williams says these sort of feelings have obviously been building up with some Calgarians for a while.

“An anger, a dissatisfaction, amongst certainly some voters that has really motivated them to oppose and very vocally or dramatically oppose officials when they disagree with them and so that has been the environment within which this particular council has tried to govern,” she said.

This comes as Gondek and her fellow council members have faced staggeringly low approval ratings since their election over two years ago.

Points of contention throughout this council’s term have included the single-use bylaw, increases to property taxes, and the new Event Centre deal.

“It signals that there’s a lot of, not just dissatisfaction, but really motivated or angry dissatisfaction with a number of initiatives that she has been associated with,” Williams explained.

A ThinkHQ poll from December 2023 asked more than 1,100 residents how they are feeling this government approached the midway point of its term.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents said they disapprove of Gondek’s performance while 43 per cent say they “strongly disapprove.”

When it comes to council, 37 per cent said they’re supportive of their local councillor, with just eight per cent feeling “strongly.”

When reached for comment on the situation, Gondek’s office provided a written statement, saying the mayor remains committed to working for Calgarians.

“In October 2021, Calgarians put their faith in me to be a mayor who could bring balance and stability to this city at a time when polarized ideologies stood to divide us,” it said, in part. “I remain steadfastly committed to the work of building a future that holds opportunity and prosperity for everyone who lives here. We have work to do. Onward.”

CityNews has also reached out to the petition representative for comment on the situation.

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