Source: Facebook

The City of Calgary confirmed receiving a formal petition to recall Mayor Jyoti Gondek under Alberta’s recall legislation.

Former premier Jason Kenney’s UCP government introduced recall legislation in 2020, which came into effect under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) in 2022. This notice marks a historic first under the legislation.

Initiated by local HVAC company owner Landon Johnston, the petition reflects growing dissatisfaction with Mayor Gondek’s leadership. True North reached out to Jonhston for comment but has not yet received a response. 

Elections Calgary confirmed receiving the recall petition on January 30, 2024. The petition was reviewed and deemed compliant, triggering the 60-day signature collection period, which will end on April 4. To be validated, the City Clerk’s Office must receive the petition, with the required number of signatures by that date.

Achieving the recall requires signatures from 40% of eligible voters in the city’s population of 1,285,711, totalling 514,284 signatures, significantly higher than the total votes cast in the 2021 election. During the last municipal election, Gondek received 176,344 of the total 393,090 votes cast. 

The petition is not online. All signatures have to be physically signed and verified. 

“All signatures must be original signatures and a recall petition may not be signed in digital form,” said City Clerk Kate Martin.

Despite Gondek’s ratings being in freefall, the number of signatures required may be too much to ask.

True North previously reported in the Summer that Gondek’s disapproval rating was 55%. Since then it’s gotten even worse.

ThinkHQ revealed in a December 2023 poll that Gondek was the least popular mayor in Calgary’s history, with a 30% approval rate compared to 61% disapproval. Additionally, 43% of respondents strongly disapprove of Gondek. 

Gondek’s approval has been negatively affected by criticism over tax increases, her boycott of the city’s annual menorah lighting, and the recent single-use bylaw that went into effect in mid-January, which Premier Danielle Smith said she does not support.  

Should the recall petition meet its requirements, it triggers a subsequent 45-day review phase. Following this period, the City Clerk is tasked with presenting a formal determination to the Council at its next meeting, classifying the petition as either sufficient or insufficient.

Per the City of Calgary’s official guidelines, if a petition is declared sufficient, the individual named in the notice of recall petition is recalled, the individual is no longer a member of Council or of any Council committee, and the position to which the individual was elected is vacant.

Given that the next general election is scheduled for October 20, 2025, and with more than 12 months until then, a by-election would be called to fill the vacant seat.

Conversely, should the petition be deemed insufficient, it is the City Clerk’s responsibility to announce this finding on the municipal website. Once a notice of petition has been filed, no further recall petitions about the same Member of Council will be accepted.

According to CBC, Johnston said he’ll do whatever he can to get the required signatures, including launching a website and finding volunteer canvassers.

“I’m going to do absolutely everything I can according to the legislation to get the mayor recalled. But I am well aware of the actual, you know, likelihood of that happening,” he said. “She’s going to hear about it, and she’s going to maybe think twice about the way she runs things.”

The mayor’s office provided a statement.

“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,” Gondek said in a statement. “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.”