Matt Whitman calling for complaints against Halifax councillors to be made public
Whitman, who has been under scrutiny lately after he retweeted a letter from ID Canada, a white supremacist group.
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One Halifax regional councillor who believes he’s the subject of the majority of complaints filed to City Hall in recent weeks says he thinks they should be dealt with in public.
Municipal spokesperson Nick Ritcey told Metro on Tuesday morning that there were 57 complaints against councillors currently outstanding, far more than all of last year. The municipality never discloses which councillors are the subjects of the complaints.
Coun. Matt Whitman told reporters after council’s meeting on Tuesday that he thinks “probably the majority” are about him, while he has “a feeling there might be some about other councillors or members of council.”
The number of complaints has been growing since Whitman retweeted a letter from ID Canada, a white supremacist group, chastising council for its handling of the Edward Cornwallis statue issue.
“I feel like a lot of the complaints are misinformed,” Whitman said on Tuesday.
“It would be like if before the Superbowl, someone said, ‘Go Patriots,’ and you retweeted that, and it turns out the person that said, ‘Go Patriots’ is a bank robber or a pedophile or a racist. You’re not endorsing the person who sent the tweet, you’re endorsing the tweet.”
Whitman said he stands by the content of the letter, which said, “Canadians expect the memory of our European founders to remain unpolluted by revisionist attitudes.”
“The contents of the letter, there’s nothing offensive there,” Whitman said.
The complaints weren’t dealt with at council on Tuesday, in public or in camera. Typically they’re dealt with during an in camera, closed-door council session and a councillor will apologize or council will vote on some other remedy.
“I think it should be done in public because the public wants to hear responses,” Whitman said.
Mayor Mike Savage said he hadn’t reviewed the complaints yet, but he doesn’t think they could be dealt with in public.
“I think that people are entitled to a process that allows them to have a conversation with their colleagues in an appropriate way. I don’t think it’s something that can be done in public,” he said.
The process isn’t new for Whitman. He’s been the subject of complaints over his use of the word “negroes” on television, an earlier video of him and his son doing a “Chinese fire drill,” and a tweet about an RCMP officer.
“It’s just on and on and on,” he said. “It gets tiring. Keep the complaints coming. We’ll hear them all and hopefully we’ll do them in public.”