Councillor Allan Hunter has apologized for an offensive image posted to his Twitter account on September 5th.

In an exclusive interview, Councillor Hunter said he was very sorry he posted the image, and explained that he had not meant to post it without commentary decrying it.

"I owe an apology to all of the citizens of Airdrie because my handling of it was terrible. The intent was to put it out there with a stop order. In other words, quit sending me garbage, quit sending me vile things, and obviously that piece didn't get in there."

Hunter explained that he is routinely sent intolerant images, including Confederate flags and swastikas. Hunter was frustrated by those images, which he said distracts him from legitimate correspondences about the community and City business. He explained that he meant to post the image with a caption asking people to stop sending him offensive imagery, and that he would block anyone that continued to do so.

Hunter said what happened next was simply a mistake that he attributed to his lack of skill with social media. The offensive image, which he said he'd received via Twitter, was posted to his own Twitter account without any accompanying explanation.

That ignited a social media controversy. People began questioning Hunter's post, with many pointing out that the image prominently featured a symbol associated with the Strasserism, a strand of Nazism. The post was then deleted without an explanation, fueling the controversy further. Later, Hunter posted a series of screenshots to his Twitter account which he said was meant to clarify the original intent of his post, but which some on social media saw as a deflection.

One concerned citizen, who wished to remain anonymous, said the post was more concerning than offensive. He was originally filled with questions when the image was posted without an explanation. That turned to concern when it was removed without any answers. He said that it is important for public figures to remember that their lives are often under scrutiny.

"I do believe that when you're in the public eye, when you're in Council or law enforcement or public service, government, school, I believe you're held to a higher standard."

Hunter said that he was not aware of the significance of the image's main symbol when he posted it.

"I can't stress enough, my apologies to the citizens. They expect better of me. Certainly, that will never happen again. And I owe an apology for first looking at that image and really not understanding the significance of it. I should have done a little more diligence."

Hunter also said he should have handled the post with more caution. He quickly admitted he is not the best at social media. When he realized what was happening, he was aghast.

"I have every intention of, when I see individuals, apologizing face to face if they really are offended, because that was not my intent. This was to say, 'Stop doing this'. Couldn't the internet be full of nice things? Couldn't the internet be full of, 'Hey, someone's hurting in our community, can we reach out and help them?'"

Hunter explained that he is committed to not having an incident like this happen again. He was especially upset over scrutiny directed at or pain caused to his family.

Some residents felt that an apology was not sufficient in this case. Resident Kevin Hughes said he was more than offended by the original image, but felt it pointed to a trend with Hunter.

"It's a pattern of behavior and a pattern of his social media presence that I have a problem with. And it's not just Allan Hunter. If it was Fred Burley, if it was the mayor, Peter Brown, I would be saying the same thing. It needs to be understood that they represent this city 24/7. With social media the way it is today, whatever they tweet, whatever they post on Facebook represents the city. Whether they're trying to tweet as a public citizen or not, they represent Airdrie 24/7."

Hughes said Hunter should be held accountable for the post, but didn't feel it was his place to say what form that should take. He also said that the whole incident illustrates the need for a Council code of conduct that specifically addresses social media.

Council's current code of conduct is silent on social media. Sharon Pollyck, Director of the City Manager's Office, explained that the current code of conduct, which was formalized in 2015, is actually silent on all Councillors' communication. A proposed code of conduct does not address social media specifically, but does address communication generally. Pollyck said social media would fall under that umbrella. That code of conduct is currently tabled pending legal review, and will be brought forward again at the next City Council meeting on September 18.

 

Questions, comments or story ideas? Email us at [email protected]

 

More Local News

Rotating Ballots Coming This Election

When you head to vote on October 16th, you might notice something a bit different on the ballot sheet. This year, Airdrie will use rotating ballots.

Support Still Needed For Wildfire Efforts In Alberta

Although residents of Waterton and nearby communities are slowly returning home after fleeing the Kenow wildfire, support is still needed.

Council Designates Route for Trans Canada Trail

Parts of Airdrie's existing pathway system will be designated as part of the Trans Canada Trail following a decision by City Council on Monday (September 18).

Spratt Hopes to Offer New Perspective to RVS Board

Expect to see Jason Spratt's name on the ballot for Ward 3 Trustee when you go to vote on October 16. Spratt is one of five candidates seeking the three Rocky View Trustee seats available in Airdrie.

Spreading Kindness Through Airdrie Schools

Students at Windsong Heights School had a special guest in their midst this morning (September 19).

Alberta Keeping Daylight Saving Time

After much discussion and public input, a Legislative Committee said no to removing Daylight Saving Time for Alberta today (September 19).

Forrest Running For School Trustee

A former school principal is looking to write a new chapter in his career as an educator.

Unofficial Candidate Lists Released After Nomination Day

The 2017 election season is officially underway after candidates for mayor, council and trustee filed their paperwork and formalized their candidacy yesterday (September 18).

Council Passes Code of Conduct Bylaw

At last night's (September 18) City Council meeting, Council gave three readings to a new Code of Conduct bylaw and passed it unanimously after lengthy discussion.

De Bokx Ready for the Municipal Election

With nomination day now in the books, an Airdrie resident is ready to run for City Council.

New Recycling Bins Popping Up At Airdrie Facilities

You may have noticed new waste and recycling bins appearing at various Airdrie facilities and parks.

Fatal Crash On Bearspaw Road

Alberta EMS confirms that one person has died after a tragic crash this morning (September 18th).

Council Meets For First Time in September

Councillors will meet at City Hall tonight (September 18) for the first time this month.

Section of Main Street South Will Be Closed All Week

A little used section of Main Street will be closed for much of this week starting today (September 18).

2017 Election Officially Starts with Nomination Day

Airdrie's election season officially begins today (September 18) as candidates will make their way to City Hall and file their paperwork on Nomination Day.

Terry Fox Run Takes Over East Lake

After a cold week, Sunday (September 17) was a beautiful day to raise money for cancer research and run around the lake as the Terry Fox Run took over East Lake Park.

Desrochers Enters The Council Race

Another name will be on the ballot come October 16th.

Forum Sees Candidates Address Arts and Culture

Last night (September 15), thirteen candidates for council and mayor addressed issues surrounding arts and culture in Airdrie at a forum hosted by Creative Airdrie at the Hampton Inn & Suites.

Boys and Girls Club Receive Generous Donation

Yesterday (September 15), the Airdrie Boys & Girls Club received a donation from Lowes.

Biever Tosses Hat Into Mayoral Ring

The mayoral race is heating up in Airdrie, and now a fifth candidate has announced his intention to run.

DiscoverWestman.com is Westman's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

Bio-Metrics Body Composition Testing

21 September 2017 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm

PUSH cycling studio, Airdrie





PUSH Whole30 Challenge Information Session & Orientation

21 September 2017 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

PUSH cycling studio, Airdrie





Overcoming the Mental Health Stigma Workshop

23 September 2017 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Daybreak Community Church, Airdrie





Science Literacy Week plus Family Night

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Airdrie Public Library





Health, Happiness and Wellness Expo

23 September 2017 10:00 am

TBA





Empty Bowls Arts Festival 2017

23 September 2017 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Airdrie Food Bank, Airdrie





Empty Bowls Fundraiser

23 September 2017 1:00 pm

TBA





Login