November 15, 2017 2:23 pm

Halifax council to undergo sensitivity training after multiple complaints

FILE: Halifax councillors will soon be undergoing sensitivity training

Natasha Pace/Global News

Halifax regional council is set to undergo group sensitivity training as a result of a string of complaints against council members.

The decision came after council held an in-camera — or closed to the public — discussion and a unanimous vote on the issue during Tuesday’s Halfiax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) council meeting.

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Recent weeks have seen Matt Whitman, councillor for Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets, apologize for using the word “negro” in an interview as well as Shawn Cleary, councillor for Halifax West Armdale, and Whitman trading barbs over Twitter on the racist origins of the word ‘marijuana.’

READ MORE: Halifax Coun. Waye Mason elected deputy mayor by acclamation

Both incidents received media attention and a mixed reaction from Haligonians.

“We all need to be respectful of each other, I just believe that, right? And I think you can only make good decisions on tough issues if you respect each other’s points of view and part of that is understanding words you can use and words you shouldn’t use,” said Mayor Mike Savage after Whitman’s apology.

Municipal staff told Global News that before last night’s council meeting there were 13 outstanding complaints against councillors under the city’s code of conduct.

Nick Ritcey, a spokesman for the HRM, was not able to confirm which councillors or how many had received complaints, but did say that the vast majority of them were filed in the last three months.

WATCH: Halifax council hears second apology from Councillor Matt Whitman over offensive comments

The motion for group sensitivity training had no time restraints on when it must be finished but HRM staff are working on the details now.

“The CAO and Mayor will be arranging group sensitivity training for members of Regional Council in the coming weeks,” wrote Ritcey in an email.

“We don’t have a timeline or any details about the training format at this point.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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