Bell: Gondek backers trash 'Dump Gondek' petition as Smith defends recall

Making recall more achievable and realistic is ‘under active discussion’ by the Smith government

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The empire strikes back.

Supporters of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek go public and take aim at the Dump Gondek petition as an attack on democracy.

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Premier Danielle Smith leads a government looking to make it easier to recall a politician and yank them from office.

On Thursday, the premier says if politicians are elected and end up doing something completely opposite from what voters expected there has to be a way to deal with the political-180 between elections.

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“I think giving the power to the people is an important aspect of making sure politicians keep their word,” says Smith.

“I think it’s an important part of democracy.”

Smith also points out under the current law you need way, way more people to sign a petition than the number who actually voted for the politician you want to punt.

Making recall more achievable and realistic is “under active discussion” by the Smith government.

Meanwhile, earlier his week, Gondek supporters, including one who worked for the mayor, go on offence and get an article published in the Calgary Herald.

They say the Dump Gondek petition “defies democratic principles” and “subverts the power of the people” and is all about “disempowering the majority” and “undermining our democracy.”

They point to those they see as a vocal minority, a small group wanting to “upheave democracy” after the majority of voters elected Gondek in every single ward in Calgary.

Gondek did not win a majority in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 nor in the city overall.

So why do the Gondek loyalists think this so-called small group want to upheave democracy? Get this.

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“Because they can’t comprehend the majority of people don’t share their perspective.”

Say what?!

What some people can’t comprehend is the arithmetic of a ThinkHQ poll showing Gondek as the most unpopular mayor in Calgary’s history.

Who is the majority now?

Let us not disturb these folks with facts.

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The Gondek supporters figure “this vocal minority” is “intentionally trying to make an example of Gondek” and signalling they have more power than those who voted for Gondek.

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What these individuals don’t realize is there are plenty of people who voted for Gondek in 2021 and who do not support her now.

They have buyer’s remorse and they can’t get their vote back.

Then there’s the media. Don’t worry we have permanent ‘Kick Me’ signs tattooed on our backsides.

“Outrage” overrides thoughtful analysis, say the authors.

But there is outrage!

We apparently don’t understand the big picture. The big picture is Gondek is doing a great job.

Calgarians elected Gondek until the next election and that’s how democracy works, they say.

But in this democracy there is also a law saying citizens can deep-six a politician if they are able to collect an impossible number of signatures on a petition.

It’s a law needing an overhaul but it is the law and the Dump Gondek petition drive is part of democracy in Alberta.

By the way, there was also another article by Mike Shaikh, a distinguished member of the Order of Canada, telling us Gondek is “under-appreciated” and is “an authentic, polished and powerful leader.”

Shaikh as well talks about a “minority” trying to “derail the democratic elections and processes.”

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Calgarians really have to wake up in a big way.

Dan McLean is a councillor who is ready to rumble.

“This is democracy in action. It’s all about people wanting to be heard.

“The people who don’t like it. Those sound like words coming from somebody who is a socialist or a communist or a fascist even.”

McLean says around the world those in power are “trying to suppress the voice of the people and that is the exact opposite of democracy.”

The councillor says his complaint is over the policies of Gondek and is not a personal attack.

He just wishes the mayor would look in the mirror and change course.

“I don’t think she’s doing that. Instead she’s doubling down and saying this is complicated. I’m smarter than you. Let me do what I have to do.”

Dan McLean
Calgary Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean speaks to media regarding the single-use items bylaw at City Hall on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

Landon Johnston, heading up the Dump Gondek petition, says 700 people have now volunteered to help out and he insists if all the signatures were counted today there would be about 100,000.

We shall see.

Remember about 176,000 people voted for Gondek.

People with petitions will start knocking on doors Friday.

There is the website where there is everything you need to know.

Johnston says they bought 100 Recall Gondek signs to be placed around the city.

If they score more donations they’d like to take ads out in the newspaper.

“I’m hoping to get this city motivated,” he says.

And, as reported Thursday, Johnston meets with Gondek March 22.

Does he think the mayor is at all nervous?

“I would be nervous if I was her. But I don’t know.”

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