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Petition to recall Calgary mayor submitted without reaching target, organizer says

The deadline to submit the petition to recall Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek has passed, and the man who started it all says he didn’t reach the minimum required number of signatures to remove the mayor from office. 

As required by provincial legislation, local HVAC business owner Landon Johnston had 60 days to collect 514,284 hand-written signatures — 40 per cent of Calgary’s 2019 population — after he initiated the petition at the end of January.

Johnston submitted the final signatures before the deadline on Thursday. He says he’s counted 72,271 in total, which is 442,013 shy of the target.

In order to be deemed sufficient, Johnston’s petition needs more signatures than people who voted in Calgary’s last election.

During a news conference outside of the Elections Calgary offices following the petition drop-off, Johnston called this a “crash course” experience in politics.

“We did not get enough to get the mayor to resign, but that is more … about the legislation than the amount of signatures we got,” he said, adding that 60 days was not enough time.

Johnston, who spent $500 to submit the petition, says he did it because he isn’t satisfied with Calgary’s leadership. A copy of the original notice of recall can be found on the Elections Calgary website.

The city now has 45 days to count the number of signatures that were collected, the first step in determining if the petition is sufficient to recall Gondek from the mayor’s office. 

Prior to the deadline, Gondek said that the provincial government has been in touch with the City of Calgary administration to ensure the requirements of the recall legislation are met during the verification process.

“We will have results following that,” she said. “I’m not a part of the exercise of doing the count or validation, so we shall see when our chief administrative officer has some results to share with us.”

WATCH | Johnston speaks to Canada Tonight after submitting his petition:

Landon Johnston delivers his recall petition, and vows to keep fighting

6 hours ago

Duration 8:18

A Calgary man says he delivered a petition today with more than 70,000 signatures to the city’s elections office to recall the mayor. He says they’re unhappy with Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s leadership, and will keep pressing for her to leave office.

And she says she’s remained focused on her duties as mayor throughout the process.

“I made a commitment to serve the people of the city well and work with my colleagues to deliver important projects and services to them,” said Gondek.

“You cannot be distracted by something that’s going on along the sidelines. You have to remain committed to why you ran.”

Once the signatures are counted, the results must be reported publicly at a special meeting of city council. Signatures that are deemed invalid or incomplete will not be included in the final total.

“If it becomes clear during any part of the verification process the final count will not meet the 40 per cent threshold, no further verification is done,” reads the city’s website.

a man stands outside behind a red truck. snow is falling. other people stand behind him. he looks down at some cardboard boxes.
Landon Johnston and some of his supporters appeared at the Elections Calgary offices on Thursday to hand in signatures for his petition to recall the city’s mayor. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

Only eligible Calgary electors are allowed to sign the recall petition.

Johnston says he won’t be releasing the names of those who signed the recall petition.

“To me, this is as precious as a vote, and it should be as private as a vote. So nobody should know who signed this,” said Johnston.

The petitioner had previously acknowledged that he would not be able to gather the necessary number of signatures, however, he remains hopeful the petition could still impact the mayor’s career.

“We’re going to push for her to resign, still,” he said. 

“I just want to find a way to keep the fight going.”

When asked if he believes this process could create a chilling effect for politicians who hope to run for office, Johnston said “it should.”

WATCH | Calgary’s mayor speaks to Canada Tonight about the recall petition: 

“If politicians are worried [recall petitions] will be weaponized, you’re … right it’ll be weaponized,” he told reporters. 

“This is our money. They’re getting paid by taxpayers. They should not be in office to be rich, they should be in office because that was their calling to do so.”

As outlined by the legislation, an elected official can face only one recall petition per term. If this petition is deemed insufficient, no more recall petitions can be brought forward against Gondek for the remainder of her current term as mayor.

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