Bell: Dump petitioner Gondek warns Calgary council fight not over

“Each signature was a little story of someone who went out of their way to come and sign this petition knowing it would do no good,” Landon Johnston said.

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The man who took on Calgary city council, where so many others didn’t, knows he’s nowhere near getting the impossible number of signatures needed to remove Mayor Jyoti Gondek from office.

Landon Johnston started in February on his own, got some volunteers to join the fight, and has now counted 51,000 petition signatures with more expected to be turned in Thursday, when the Dump Gondek petition drive crosses the finish line.

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“Each signature was a little story of someone who went out of their way to come and sign this petition knowing it would do no good.”

Johnston isn’t making excuses, but for every person who signed the petition to show Gondek the door, there were two other people who didn’t pick up the pen because they thought it would do no good.

Will Gondek claim a victory because she survived the petition drive where the number of signatures needed to remove her as mayor was roughly three times the votes the mayor received in the last election?

“It validates everything he has done up to this point. That’s the truth. We didn’t get enough signatures. She can use this as a victory. Her followers can take advantage of this as a victory.”

Johnston adds, with or without memory, Gondek is the most unpopular mayor in Calgary’s history.

Dump Gondek’s point man also says that if Premier Danielle Smith changes the rules around impeachment, as she is expected to do by making it easier to remove a city politician, the fight continues.

“If they lower that threshold, I’ll take out Peter Demong,” Johnston says.

Demong, who pretends to be a Conservative, is Johnston’s councillor.

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“Believe me, it will only take one domino for the rest of these people to see the writing on the wall. “I’m letting you know.”

Yes, very often the mayor’s supporters say that she has only one vote on the council.

“She only has one vote on the council when things are not going well, but she suddenly becomes mayor when she thinks things are going well. “I’m so tired of that excuse,” Johnston says.

“So okay, we’ll look for the other votes too. That will be much easier.”

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What does Johnston think of the withdrawal effort?

“First of all, the mayor knows my name. Now my voice has been heard.

“Anyone can do this, not just me.

“Any normal person, if they shout loud enough, people will hear them.”

Johnston began his petition campaign alone and gained 50 signatures on the first day.

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In the first 10 days she visited hundreds of houses in her Midnapore neighborhood and a good part of the people did not know who the mayor was or asked her what she had done.

This past Sunday he went to a hundred houses and “either they slammed the door in my face because they didn’t agree with me or they gave me a hug and invited me to their house.”

He says each person knew why they were there.

Jyoti Gondek
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was booed by fans at a Calgary Flames game on March 30 meant to celebrate the South Asian community. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

So the man who says he was almost stabbed once downtown while seeking signatures and was spat on four times by those who accused him of attacking democracy mentions the “incredible volunteers” who helped him and put in hours, days and weeks of effort .

Johnston insists he can only speak for himself in saying this recall was about firing Gondek or getting her to resign.

While others are accused of using the petition for their own benefit, the man behind the recall says he is focused on signatures, signatures, signatures.

I have to ask Johnston about the fans who booed Gondek at the hockey game.

“You didn’t think that would happen? “She is the least popular mayor in Calgary history,” she claims.

“I think it’s how angry people are.”

Johnston tells me he installed air conditioning for one of the other people on the ice with Gondek for the puck drop ceremony.

The petitioner says he will “fight tooth and nail” for a better impeachment law and hopes to meet with the prime minister.

Ever the optimist, Johnston also predicts that in the upcoming municipal elections in the fall of next year we will see one of the largest voter turnouts in Calgary ever.

“We are in this situation because people stayed home.”

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