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Calgary’s ‘Recall Gondek’ campaign officially deemed insufficient

An effort to remove Calgary’s mayor through a recall campaign has been officially deemed insufficient, Calgary’s city clerk declared Monday.

To make matters worse for organizers, city staff believe all the signatures collected were invalid for the purposes of the motion.

The petition to recall Jyoti Gondek started in February and, under legislation set out in the Municipal Government Act (MGA), requires the petitioner to collect more than 514,000 valid signatures within 60 days.

City clerk Kate Martin said staff counted 69,344 unverified signatures since the petition was dropped off at Elections Calgary last month.

“I, Katarzyna Martin, city clerk at the City of Calgary, hereby declare the recall petition to recall Mayor Jyoti Gondek received April 4, 2024, to be insufficient,” Martin told council.

The cost to verify the petition has been $30,559 so far, which includes salaries for the six limited-term staff hired for the process.

The campaign was started by Landon Johnston, who said he wanted to send a message to the mayor and council that many Calgarians are upset with spending and tax increases. The effort was also launched to highlight the nearly impossible bar set under provincial recall legislation, Johnston told CTV News.

Because the signature tally fell well short of its goal, the city did not need to move forward with a proper verification process.

However, Calgary’s chief administrative officer David Duckworth, said he ordered staff to go through a verification process in the interest of “transparency to the public and parties involved.”

A randomized sample of 369 signatures collected found none of them to be valid because they were not compliant with rules set out in the MGA that require the notice of recall petition to be included on the page.

“Therefore, 100 per cent of the signatures were invalid,” Martin said.

Gondek said the official results of the process allow council to now focus on other issues at city hall, including the continuation of a lengthy rezoning debate.

“There are really important decisions to make on behalf of Calgarians and I’m glad we don’t have this distraction anymore,” the mayor told journalists Monday.

The rules for municipal recall petitions were established by the Alberta Government and, given the number of invalid signatures found, the mayor said the province should take another look at the legislation surrounding recall campaigns.

“I think it’s important for the provincial government to reflect on this,” she said. “It is up to them — to the provincial government — to understand how to make this process a little bit more user friendly for folks.”

Under the MGA, Gondek cannot face another recall effort this term.

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