Coun. Nickel narrowly escapes sanction after 'disrespectful, misleading' posts
EDMONTON -- Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel will not be reprimanded for social media posts the city's integrity commissioner found misleading and offensive.
The remaining Edmonton city councillors voted 8-4 to hand Nickel a letter of reprimand — one vote short of the super majority needed.
A 40-page report from Jamie Pytel, the city's integrity commissioner, recommended a letter of reprimand after Nickel's social media posts on April 17 and 18 and May 20.
The social media posts targeted Edmonton bike lanes and council's decisions to turn driving lanes into multi-modal spaces to encourage physical distancing as the COVID-19 threat grew.
One post went after Coun. Andrew Knack with a cartoon Pytel found "demeaning, derisive and personal," and another post included the popular Kermit the Frog meme to criticize Iveson's handling of public transit during the pandemic.
She found the posts were "disrespectful, lacked decorum, contained personal attacks and misleading information" contrary to council's Code of Conduct.
Pytel wrote the report after several complaints were made by members of the public.
Nickel defended himself then saying the report and complaints were "one of the greatest attacks on democracy in Edmonton's history is underway."
"I'm being brought before you today because I choose to criticize the direction of this civic government. This is shameful," he said Wednesday.
He maintains his posts were truthful and inoffensive, but Pytel said the bike lane posts were inaccurate because they imply council voted to have them installed when it was a city staff decision.
"I think where statements are made that are untrue and misleading, there has to be some accountability for that," Iveson said.
Rather than defend himself at council, Nickel had his lawyer address his peers at the hearing.
"The integrity commissioner has proposed sanctioning Councillor Nickel for simply doing his job as a public figure," Jonathan Denis said. "This is nothing more than an attempt by Mike Nickel’s opponents to silence him."
Nickel and Denis left chambers before taking questions.
The Ward 11 councillor celebrated his win on social media.