Pro IQRA News Updates.
Shovel. Michael Janz broke the council’s code of conduct when he shared a post on social media that contained a derogatory term for police, Edmonton’s integrity commissioner has found.
In a report released Thursday, Jamie Pytel said retweeting a post with the word “pig” violated the code in areas that guide social media communication and respectful interactions.
“There is no doubt that the existence of the derogatory word in the retweet was a violation of the code of conduct,” Pytel concluded.
According to the code, councilors may not use any “harassing, offensive, discriminatory, disrespectful or unparliamentary language” about council, councillors, city employees, councillor-employees or the public.
The original tweet was a comment on the differences in fine amounts for motor vehicles and cyclists.
Janz admits the language is inappropriate.
“Elected officials should not use derogatory language, of course I agree with that,” Janz said in an interview with CBC News on Thursday.
“I would never use that language in rooms. I would never write those words myself.”
Janz said he removed the post after realizing what it contained.
Complaints and apologies
In the report, Pytel outlines the seven complaints she received after Janz retweeted the post. None of the complainants are named in the report.
“I find the fact that Mr. Janz is using his status as a city councilor on his official Twitter platform to use such unparliamentary language to describe city employees as disgraceful,” wrote one.
“I’m not sure to be honest, but a city councilor should not be allowed to express such unprofessional and insulting language,” said another.
“Mr. Janz has an open agenda of hatred towards the Edmonton Police Service. This is clearly evident through his posts on Twitter,” said a third.
Janz later apologized in a tweet on June 28.
I acknowledge that retweeting a post containing a derogatory term is contrary to the expectations of the Council’s Code of Conduct. I apologize to anyone who was offended by the retweet of this post. (2/2)
Shovel. Tim Cartmell said he believes the situation deserves an investigation, in part because of how it reflects on the council as a whole.
“The council does not work in isolation,” he said. “It must have functional, respectful working relationships with a number of external parties.”
Cartmell also suggested in an interview on Thursday that it “has the potential to involve or further compromise the council’s relationship with the police”.
He said councilors should be extra careful when it comes to relationships with agencies, councils, committees or the public.
“Offering provocative public comments on social media channels without context runs the risk … of jeopardizing all those relationships,” he said.
“And it has to be done very carefully.”
Purpose of the code
Investigating code of conduct complaints costs money, Janz noted. He questions the use of the code to investigate social media posts.
“I think the code of conduct was created to deal with issues of material corruption or nepotism or issues where there’s actually, you know, there’s financial impropriety or criminal behavior,” Janz said.
“For example, I don’t want to see a code of conduct weaponized to try to silence councilors or try to limit freedom of speech or anything like that.”
The Board is scheduled to discuss the findings at a sanctions hearing on Aug. 15, where the board can decide whether Janz should receive formal sanctions for violating the code.
The Council has several options for sanctions.
It may order the board member to receive a letter of reprimand, require the board member to issue a letter of apology or require specific training;
The Board can also cut or suspend a colleague’s salary, but it cannot impose a sanction that prevents the board member from fulfilling their legal duties.
Pytel did not recommend sanctions or further action and called the June apology an appropriate resolution to the complaints.