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Halifax deputy mayor Matt Whitman forced to make apology over controversial tweet

Public statement from councillor comes after marathon session Tuesday, including hours behind closed doors.

Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman sits in council chambers on Tuesday morning.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman sits in council chambers on Tuesday morning.

After more than three hours of debate behind closed doors during Tuesday’s marathon meeting of regional council, deputy mayor Matt Whitman was forced to apologize for comments he made on Twitter earlier this month.

"They weren't appropriate, they were rude, they weren't kind, and my colleagues have found that they weren't respectful for someone in my position as a regional councillor and a deputy mayor," Whitman said Tuesday night after council directed him to issue an apology.

"I'm sorry for the people I would've offended or hurt by saying what I said."

Mayor Mike Savage’s office received two separate letters last week from people wishing to launch formal complaints against Whitman for a Feb. 9 tweet criticizing an RCMP officer for ticketing one of his constituents.

“Very disappointed in the #RCMP officer who ticketed a Kingswood 4 wheeler with a plow $406 for tidying up his culdesac,” Whitman tweeted, followed by the hashtags #PowerTrip and #GetALife.

“It was inappropriate,” Whitman said Tuesday. “The two hashtags in particular were rude, and offended people.”

Scott Warnica is the RCMP officer who wrote the ticket. He sent the first complaint letter to the mayor’s office, calling on Savage to investigate whether Whitman’s online comments violated the code of conduct for regional councillors.

Warnica told Metro last week he wanted an apology from Whitman.

"To me he doesn’t represent what I want in a councillor and certainly not what I expect out of a deputy mayor," Warnica said.

“I think this process if nothing else will make him stop and think about exactly what he’s tweeting and exactly what he’s doing in the future. I am trying to modify his behaviour.”

Whitman said Tuesday he would be changing the way he uses social media.

“I will think twice before I type,” he said.

“I just have to be cautious that I say and do and tweet the right things.”

Council debated the issue in camera for more than three hours of its 11-hour meeting on Tuesday.

Whitman said every councillor wanted to share their point of view on the issue, leading to “a real conversation that needed to be had” about the municipality’s code of conduct.

“Code of conduct is something we could look at more often,” Whitman said, adding that he thinks a social media policy should “grow out of that.”

Mayor Savage left city hall quickly after the meeting without commenting.

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