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HYPOCRISY: Jyoti Gondek caught maskless despite supporting mask mandates

Keean Bexte

December 14, 2021

During closed-door discussions on Calgary’s budget, Mayor Jyoti Gondek and her councillors wholly ignored their own mask mandate, revealing their ‘masks-for-thee-but-not-for-me’ mindset.

This bit of hypocrisy comes only days after Premier Jason Kenney tacitly acknowledged that there is no public health emergency in Alberta.

However, Calgary’s brass at City Hall remains relentless in its efforts to create a double standard. Publicly they fight to retain pandemic powers and restrictions, but privately they are shown not to be worried about any such pandemic that would justify such powers or restrictions.

Indeed, on November 15, The Counter Signal reported that Gondek and Calgary City Council voted to remove the criteria for removing the mask mandate bylaw, effectively making the mandate permanent.

The bylaw initially set a criterion that would automatically repeal the bylaw, 28 consecutive days of low (100 or less per capita) case counts in Calgary. Then case counts meant the mandate could have been automatically repealed by November 26.

But the city council voted 11-4 in favour of authoritarianism, with Councillors Sonya Sharp, Sean Chu, Peter Demong, and Dan McLean the sole proponents of freedom of choice.

“I think, for many of us, we don’t want déjà vu,” Gondek said following the vote. “We want to do the right thing now, and if it means a little more caution, then we’re in for that.”

Gondek’s voting history on the draconian measure indicated a gradual inclination towards imposing a ‘forever pandemic’ in Calgary despite relatively low COVID-19 case counts.

On June 21, Calgary City Council extended its draconian mask mandate until July 5. The motion to repeal Calgary’s mask bylaw entered a 7-7 tie and lost the vote. 

Gondek voted against the motion that led to the July 5 vote.

At the time, City Hall said several factors affected the decision. For example, hospitalizations, ICU numbers, case rates and complete vaccination rates will determine when to lift mandatory masking.

Failure to wear a face-covering where required would result in a $500 fine. Businesses that do not display prescribed signage mandating masks receive a $200 fine.

The city council then voted 10-4 to repeal the bylaw on July 5 that remained active since August 1, 2020. Councillors Gian-Carlo Carra, George Chahal, Druh Farrell and Jyoti Gondek voted in opposition to repealing the bylaw. 

Gondek hoped to see the bylaw in place throughout July.

“I think we would have to wait four more weeks just to keep people protected and safe,” said the then Ward 3 councillor. “But council’s made a decision.”

At the time, Gondek also supported mandating masks in public buildings to “protect city employees.”

“We are an employer, and as an operator, we are obligated to follow the guidelines set out by Dr. Hinshaw. And her guidelines are quite specific about taking responsibility,” she said. “So I believe our administration will do the right thing here.”

On August 30, Gondek tweeted her request publicly for discourse on the city’s pandemic response during Calgary’s September 7 meeting on the city’s priorities and finance committee.

“If we can’t get a special meeting, this might work instead,” she wrote.

In August, Gondek, Carra, and outgoing Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell all took to social media, calling for the city’s mask bylaw to be reinstated.

Friday’s emergency management committee meeting could produce a recommendation for the city council to consider on September 13 — the final meeting of their term.

But on September 3, city councillors voted to reinstate its mask bylaw at all indoor public spaces after Kenney announced a province-wide mask mandate amid the fourth COVID-19 wave. Noncompliance would result in a $500 fine.

The city also declared a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) during the announcement to ensure the province could not repeal its mask mandate moving forward and to quickly redirect resources as required with climbing COVID-19 cases in the city. 

Gondek argued that the council had no other choice but to reinstate masking mandates.

“Public health is [a] provincial jurisdiction, and they are simply not doing anything they’ve checked out,” she said. “And now they’ve dumped it on school boards and municipalities and businesses and independent organizations to make our own decisions.”

Gondek acknowledged the masking bylaw would not resonate with everyone but maintained a lot of vocal support for its reintroduction. “Overwhelmingly, we are getting messages in our inboxes every two to five minutes saying,” she claimed. “‘Please return the masked mandate.'”

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