Edmonton city councillor Michael Janz violated the Council Code of Conduct bylaw when he retweeted a post using a derogatory term for police, the city’s integrity commissioner has found.
On May 29, Janz retweeted the following post:
“So this week a co-worker got a $409 ticket for failing to stop his bike at a stop sign. It was 7am in a residential area, the roads were empty, except for the pig hiding in the bushes.
The person who hit me with her car got a $47 ticket for failing to signal.
Seven complaints were made to the city’s integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel. The complainants were not named in a report published July 4, in which Pytel noted that two sections of the code were relevant when examining Janz’ post.
The first maintains that “councillors will conduct themselves with decorum at all times, including while attending meetings, interacting with City Employees and Councillor’s employees, and engaging with the public.”
The second says that “councillors must not use any harassing, offensive, discriminatory, disrespectful, or unparliamentary language about Council, a Councillor, City employees, Councillor’s employees, or the public.”
Pytel also stated that she had warned Janz about retweets in February, noting that they could violate the code.
Pytel found that the use of the word “pig” in the retweet was a violation of the Code of Conduct.
She added that if Janz apologized, she would recommend that council take no further action.
“On May 29, 2022, I retweeted a post that referred to an unidentified member of Calgary law enforcement using a derogatory term. I quickly deleted that post, but not before it was viewed by members of the public. I recognize that retweeting a post containing a derogatory term is contrary to the expectations of the Council Code of Conduct. I apologize to anyone who was offended by the retweeting of this post.”
Pytel cautioned that council was at liberty to reject her recommendation in the case.
Janz calls the retweet a mistake.
“That language is contrary to the code of conduct, I don’t dispute that, I don’t use that language. It wasn’t even my words. I retweeted someone else’s,” he told CTV News Edmonton.
“Yeah, I made a mistake, it was careless, I deleted it. No big deal.”
At least one councillor says the issue has been overblown.
“I’m not sure it’s worth the attention that this process gives it. To be frank,” said Ward pihesiwin Coun. Tim Cartmell.
But he admits disrespectful comments can harm council’s relationships.
“The relationship between the police commission and the police service is not what it was a year ago. And that is predominantly because of the conversations in public, on social media and in chamber.”
A sanction hearing is scheduled for the Aug. 15 city council meeting.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson and Sean Amato.