Why We Don't Support This Recall Petition

You may have seen in the news yesterday that a recall campaign has been launched against Mayor Jyoti Gondek. 

As you will know from many of the emails we’ve sent in the last couple of years, we have many policy disagreements with Mayor Gondek.

However, unfortunately, we do not support nor do we encourage individuals to invest their time into this recall effort. 

That may, at first glance, seem confusing, so please allow us to explain.

First, we must recognize Alberta’s current system of recall is broken

We are big supporters of the concept of recall, and we pushed for its introduction in Alberta for many years.

However, the requirements set out in Alberta’s current recall legislation are so ridiculously high that it is impossible to succeed in a petition to recall a Calgary Councillor or Mayor, given the current rules.

In order for a recall to happen, a petitioner must collect signatures from a minimum of 40% of the population of the relevant area - in this case, the entire City.

This means that, in order to recall Mayor Gondek, 514,284 signatures are needed. 

To put this in context, there were only 390,383 total votes cast in the 2021 election.

That’s not 390,383 votes for Mayor Gondek, by the way - that’s all the votes for all the Mayoral candidates combined.

So, to recall Mayor Gondek, you would need almost two and a half times as many people to sign a petition against her as voted against her.

The petition can’t include just any type of signature, either - they must be hand-written signatures, on physical paper, collected in person, not in digital format.

There are other restrictions too - the most difficult of which is the amount of time allowed, which is just 60 days.

It’s not going to happen, folks, sorry.

Now, I’ve had several people say to me that, while it might be practically or literally impossible, it can’t hurt to try.

But that’s wrong, and that’s why we thought it was important to send this email.

We think the proponents of this recall petition are well-intentioned, and we appreciate that people are interested in getting involved to make things better at City Hall.

But, this particular effort will make things worse - it can hurt to try.

First, when the petition ultimately fails, Mayor Gondek will have a public relations victory.

She’ll be able to say that she successfully survived a recall attempt, and use that to her advantage - both by leveraging it as a mandate to govern and by touting it as an achievement should she choose to run again in the next election. 

Second, every minute spent on a petition doomed to fail, is a minute wasted that could have been spent on more ways of holding City Hall accountable.

Mayor Gondek would love nothing more than to have all her opponents distracted for the next two months, instead of holding her to account using proven methods to get things done.

Our advocacy work at Common Sense Calgary has yielded considerable success - from reinstating Canada Day fireworks to compelling Council to address a tax rebate, reducing street parking fees, sparking discussions on CTrain safety, and initiating the repeal of the single-use items ban.

Other groups, meanwhile, have made excellent progress on development, housing, land use issues, and much more.

I also know that our friends at the Alberta Institute are working hard on getting changes made to the recall legislation at the provincial level, so that the requirements can be made more reasonable, and future recall efforts will actually be worthwhile.

Voters should absolutely be able to recall their elected officials and it should be much easier than it is right now - we'll share more details on proposed changes to that legislation very soon.

But, until that happens, we need to make sure we’re using our limited time and resources in the most effective manner.

We have lots of work to do together to fix City Hall, so if you’d like to get involved in productive efforts to bring about change, please sign up to volunteer, or make a donation to our work today:




- Kristy and the Common Sense Calgary Team

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  • Gurmeet Brar
    commented 2024-02-19 09:38:39 -0700
    By the way, who are you folks? Where do I find out who’s who in your setup and whether, or not, you are shills for City (aka Cilly) Hall.
  • Gurmeet Brar
    commented 2024-02-19 09:36:48 -0700
    You are wrong to say it is wrong to try. It is well known that the recall process is rigged and designed to guarantee failure. Perhaps this effort will lead to a change in the recall process. Clearly the signature requirement should only have to exceed the number of votes the person got to get elected AND the protocol has to be fair rather than all the hurdles placed to guarantee failure of any recall. Surely you can see that you are DEAD WRONG in your assertions.
  • Rea Angyal
    commented 2024-02-09 14:35:43 -0700
    Shame on you for setting up a biased website discouraging Calgarians from having their fair say. Your obvious suppression is not appropriate.
  • John Arkossy
    commented 2024-02-06 08:03:47 -0700
    Anybody who follows politics knew from the onset that the recall process was biased towards the politicians but not supporting this initiative is foolish at best!
  • Common Sense Calgary
    published this page in News 2024-02-06 01:32:41 -0700