Bell: Calgary's Mayor Gondek fires back — including at me

On the talk show of Edmonton’s Ryan Jespersen, Gondek said she was trying to be civil with McLean but the councillor was ‘intent on putting out things about me’

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She wasn’t backing down. Far from it.

That’s not who she is.

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Instead, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek has something on her mind.

And the something on her mind comes out when this scribbler asks her about a social media exchange attracting a lot of eyeballs Monday.

It was her Twitter smackdown of a city councillor.

“I am very interested in civil debate and discussions about nuance but when media outlets in particular choose to deliver one-sided news and say things like Big Blue Playpen …”

Hi! I’m over here. It’s my turn.

I was saddened she didn’t mention another city hall nickname, The Cowtown Kremlin.

“You know,” continues the mayor, “if that’s the vernacular you have instituted then others are probably going to pick up on it. Let’s think about how we’re engaging in debate.”

“I’d like to do an interview with you any time,” says this writer.

She turns to the other newshounds.

“Anybody else.”

On Tuesday, this scribbler asks Gondek if she thinks it’s appropriate for her to slam Coun. Dan McLean on social media and call him “my dude” followed by a shot against him on an unrelated issue after he posted a CBC story about money in city politics.

The CBC story mentioned a group bankrolled by civic unions to the tune of $1.7 million.

In the last city election this group backed the mayor and several members of council.

McLean wrote he just wanted Calgarians to know who was getting people elected.

Gondek said McLean’s tweet was giving the impression that money was directly going into someone’s pocket.

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Earlier in the day, on the talk show of Edmonton’s Ryan Jespersen, Gondek said she was trying to be civil with McLean but the councillor was “intent on putting out things about me.”

Gondek said McLean was intending “to spread misinformation.”

“People think I somehow magically got $1.7 million which is not the case at all. So you know I was a little tired of it.”

Then she sent the snarky “my dude” tweet.

“I show up as myself every day. Anyone that knows me knows I would say something like that.”

Again, McLean says he was simply drawing attention to the news story.

Dan McLean
Calgary Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean speaks to media at City Hall on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

Gondek says she’s been called all kinds of awful things on social media “but I can’t call someone my dude, so it’s a strange place.”

The mayor also tells the Calgary press there “is a level of collegiality amongst the council.”

“However, when things get incredibly divisive and there are polarized tropes being deployed against one another it becomes very tricky to maintain that civility.”

On the Edmonton talk show, Gondek said she wanted to “get past polarization” but it hasn’t happened.

“I’m seeing us getting more and more polarized as a society.”

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Let us stop right here.

Do you ever notice the people who are always going on about the “polarizing” of society are really saying if only everybody would just toe their line and get with their program we would all be on the right side of history and everything would be fine?

But if you oppose them, you are “polarizing” society.

These people like Gondek do not listen to other views. They do not see what they’re doing as forcing stuff down our throats.

No, they’re just getting us to see the truth. Their truth.

By the way the council majority is called The Hateful Eight by the council minority for a reason.

Back to the story.

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Again on the Edmonton talk show, Gondek hasn’t much use for the petition trying to boot her from office.

“I won an election fairly. The ability to recall me without any kind of ethical violation, without any kind of Code of Conduct violation, is an interesting concept,” says Gondek.

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“I think we’re in some pretty murky territory right now.”

Then there’s Coun. Sonya Sharp.

You remember Sharp was the Calgary councillor last week who told Gondek to park her ego.

Sharp has something on her mind.

“When you fancy yourself the smartest person in the room you generally have low emotional intelligence,” says the councillor.

Calgary city councillor Sonya Sharp
Calgary Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp speaks to media at city hall on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. Brent Calver/Postmedia

“Everybody should be humble and take some constructive criticism. Every good leader knows they’re not perfect. Unfortunately, those who don’t see that think they are perfect.”

Sharp says city council has lost the trust of Calgarians but a minority of council are fighting the good fight.

By the way, didn’t Gondek promise during the last election to unify city council?

“We were never unified Day One,” says Sharp.

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