Halifax deputy mayor Matt Whitman faces complaint over social media conduct

Halifax deputy mayor Matt Whitman is the subject of a complaint regarding his conduct on social media. File/Global News

A Halifax man is asking Mayor Mike Savage to remove Matt Whitman as deputy-mayor because of his conduct on social media.

Scott Warnica describes himself as a constituent and neighbour of Whitman’s in Kingswood who says he’s fed up with Whitman’s tweets and Facebook posts, which he says cross a line for an elected official.

He’s also an RCMP officer, but stresses he’s not making his complaint as a police officer, but as a concerned resident.

“I just think it’s time for council to hold him accountable,” Warnica said.

The matter came to a head for Warnica on Tuesday when Whitman tweeted with the hashtags “#powertrip” and “#getalife” in reference to a man ticketed by the RCMP for operating an ATV on a roadway.

The all-terrain vehicle was equipped with a plow and the man was cleaning up snow on the public roadway in his cul-de-sac. It’s illegal to operate an ATV on a roadway in Nova Scotia and the man was issued a $406 fine.

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Warnica says the tweet and its hashtags cross a line.

He says Whitman has a history of using social media inappropriately, citing a 2013 tweet calling for Kingswood residents to dial 911 if they spotted a red Charger speeding in their neighbourhood. Whitman cited the street the driver lives on.

Warnica said that sort of tweet is unprofessional for an elected official and that it encourages people to call an emergency number for non-emergencies.

That is one in a long list of complaints he has sent to Savage about Whitman.

“As a remedy I would like Deputy Mayor Matt Whitman removed as deputy-mayor for HRM, I would like to see him tweet an apology while admitting he acted unprofessionally and irresponsibly as well as publicly apologize to those affected,” Warnica writes in his complaint to the mayor.

Read then full complaint:

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Global News contacted Whitman, who responded with a text message saying he was not going to comment on the allegations or the complaint.

Halifax Regional Municipality officials are governed by Administrative Order 52, which details a code of conduct for elected officials. The administrative order deals with conflict of interest but also calls for elected councillors to observe a high standard of morality, and to treat employees, contract workers and the public with “dignity, understanding and respect.”

In his complaint, Warnica alleges Whitman violated sections of the code of conduct requiring him to be objective and honest.

He also says Whitman violates the section requiring councillors to recognize the importance of working with other levels of government and organizations in Nova Scotia.

The mayor said there is a code of conduct for all Halifax elected officials and that once a complaint is lodged several steps must be followed.

“We take any official complaint very seriously,” Savage said. “There is a process we intend to use to deal with it.”

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