A Halifax Regional councillor with a history of making controversial decisions on social media, has liked a tweet advocating for violence against journalists.
Matt Whitman, councillor for Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets, liked a tweet on Monday evening that included the caption: “this is how you should treat journalists.”
Attached to the tweet is a video showing a reporter being struck over the head by a suitcase, damaging his tooth.
Whitman did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone and email over the course of several days.
After being asked for comment about the tweet by Global News, it disappeared from his account’s list of likes.
The video, a clip from the now-cancelled investigative Global News program 16×9, shows a producer attempting to interview Phillipe Rushton in 2008.
Rushton was a psychologist who taught at the University of Western Ontario. He sparked controversy due his writings on race and race theory that claimed racial groups (i.e. black, whites and Asians) could grouped based on intelligence and personality characteristics due to genetics.
“These ideas were immediately criticized and led to a firestorm of opposition both across Canada and worldwide,” a remembrance from UWO’s department of psychology reads.
“[Rushton’s] ideas posed a challenge to the basic tenets of academic freedom and led to debate at Western and beyond.”
According to the Globe and Mail, his research provided source material for white-pride groups.
In the clip shared in the tweet, Rushton is approached by a producer for 16×9 and asked if he could clarify if he was a racist or not.
“Well you’ve caught me at a bad time, I’m on my way out. I’ll have to ponder your deep and meaningful question when I come back,” Rushton said in response, loading his luggage into the vehicle.
It’s at that point that the reporter is hit in the face by a piece of luggage. Rushton apologizes and asks if he is OK before leaving, but the producer receives a cracked tooth as a result.
Latest in string of social media issues
Whitman is no stranger to social media controversy.
He has previously been censured and stripped from his role on municipal committees for three months after council determined that he violated his code of conduct and released prohibited materials after making comments on Twitter about the municipality’s removal of its statue of Edward Cornwallis, the city’s founder.
Whitman has also been under fire for retweeting a letter from a white supremacist organization, participating in a so-called “Chinese fire drill,” and, in a separate incident, using the word “negro” in an interview.