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A Calgary Politician Made A Stabbing Motion Toward A Colleague During A Public Meeting

Calgary city councillor Ward Sutherland says the gesture was misinterpreted.

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A Calgary politician is accused of pretended to twist a knife in a colleague's back, although he claims the gesture was misunderstood.

City of Calgary / Via Calgary Herald

According to the Calgary Herald, the gesture was captured on a livestream of a public council meeting on May 8. It shows councillor Druh Farrell addressing the chamber, with fellow councillor Ward Sutherland seated to her right.

At one point, when Farrell is looking the other direction, Sutherland extends his hand and makes a twisting motion with his fist, followed by a show of mock pain.

City of Calgary / Via Calgary Herald

Although it went largely unnoticed at the time, another city councillor later filed a complaint with the city's Integrity and Ethics Office after people online highlighted the moment.

“There’s been a pattern... of just lack of respect, particularly to female colleagues," Councillor Brian Pincott told the Calgary Herald.

"This is something that is serious enough that it needs to be investigated and publicly called out.”

Sutherland denied the gesture was directed at Farrell, saying he was signalling to another colleague, Andre Chabot, that he was getting stabbed in the back.

Chabot also said the moment was being misinterpreted, but because people can't play nice, councillors have switched up their seats in order to avoid any further problems.

@cheriyyc @Ward4Ward1 ward was simply making a gesture that one of our colleagues had just stabbed me in the back not DF

The whole episode has left a bad taste in some people's mouths.

This is pathetic. @Ward4Ward1 just lost my vote #yyccc

"Be a grown up [and] just do your job!" this person tweeted.

@chabot4calgary @Ward4Ward1 Even if it isn't what it looks like it's inappropriate. Be a grown up&just do your job!

Calgary's city council has long been struggling with how to create a respectful work environment, with all members forced to undergo workplace conduct training a few years ago after the atmosphere became too tense.

A 2014 report found "systemic problems" in city hall, with allegations of alcohol abuse and sexual harassment among the rumoured findings. The full report was not released to the public, however.

Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

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