Edmonton councillor should be reprimanded for 'disrespectful' and 'misleading' posts: report
EDMONTON -- An Edmonton city councillor has landed in hot water for comments he made on social media earlier this year.
A report from the city's Integrity Commissioner Jamie Pytel recommends that Mayor Don Iveson issue a letter of reprimand and implement a social media policy following Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel's social media posts on April 17 and 18 and May 20.
Pytel found that the posts were "disrespectful, lacked decorum, contained personal attacks and misleading information" contrary to council's Code of Conduct.
Nickel's April 17 post on bike lanes attributed the installation of "bike lanes" and "temporary bike lanes during a pandemic" to the current city council, but Pytel found that was misleading because the decision to install bike lanes was made as far back as 2009.
City administration later made expanded multi-modal spaces available on roads and pathways to encourage physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pytel found the post to contain some views that were fair, but said the manner they were communicated in was disrespectful and lacked decorum contrary to the Code of Conduct.
An April 18 post Nickel made that focused on Coun. Andrew Knack, which included a cartoon depiction of the councillor, was a "demeaning, derisive and personal" attack, Pytel found.
"The cartoon image of the councillor throwing money for 'bike lanes' on a fire was capable of being viewed by many people," he wrote. "It reasonably left the impression that during a time of pandemic, when many were suffering financially, the councillor was willing to burn money on the construction of bike lanes."
Another post Nickel made on May 20 shows a popular meme of Kermit the Frog with text criticizing Iveson over his perceived poor handling of public transit during the pandemic.
Pytel found it misled people to believe that Iveson was responsible for approving emergency bike lanes, when it was in fact a temporary decision made by city staff.
The report came as a result of several complaints made by members of the public, including complaints that Nickel had blocked their comments on social media.
Pytel said councillors are not required to engage the public on social media or participate in debate and that deleting or blocking constituents is not covered in the Code of Conduct.
On social media Friday, Nickel responded to the report with a five-minute-long video saying "one of the greatest attacks on democracy in Edmonton's history is underway."
He maintained the attempt to censor him was "undemocratic, petty and I believe cowardly."
Pytel detailed Nickel's response in his report as well, with the councillor saying he was not going to apologize for any of his posts.