CBC News · May 09, 2018
Windsor’s mayor says the timing of a new integrity commissioner complaint into his social media behaviour is “very interesting” as municipal election season ramps up.
Windsor business owner Jon Liedtke said he believes Mayor Drew Dilkens is in violation of council’s code of conduct, for blocking him and others from the mayor’s social media accounts.
Liedtke, owner of Higher Limits Cannabis Lounge, filed a formal complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner Wednesday.
“He has been routinely blocking people on social media,” said Liedtke. “He is suppressing people’s rights and their voices to be able to be heard in a public forum, he is depriving them to access of public information and quite frankly he’s painting a tarnish on our community.”
Liedtke said that since Dilkens uses social media accounts in an official capacity as mayor, banning constituents from engaging with him is in violation of an advisory bulletin issued by the integrity commissioner.
“Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has blocked me and other Windsor residents on social media, preventing us from engaging with him on issues of vital interest to this community,” Liedtke wrote in his complaint, which he shared with CBC News ahead of filing.
Commissioner’s social media rules
A bulletin posted in August of 2016 by the commissioner outlined best practices for social media by members of council. It states:
“Even when using ‘personal’ accounts, members must be mindful of the fact that they are still members of Council and, therefore, still represent the Corporation of the City of Windsor. This will be particularly true if an account is identified with the Member’s title such a “@CouncillorJaneDoe” or if a communication is directed to, or emanates from, the Member in their capacity and status as a Member of Council or if the post concerns a matter of public policy broadly construed.”
The bulletin goes on to say that interactions with other social media users “should be treated as though they are face-to-face conversations.”
Both Dilkens’ Facebook and Twitter accounts identify him as the mayor of Windsor.
“We have a city of around 230,000 people and I have five people blocked on Twitter and one person blocked on Facebook,” said Dilkens.
The mayor said he consults with the corporate security team at City Hall to determine an appropriate response before he blocks an individual.
When asked why he blocked Liedtke, the mayor said he did not want to “get into that.”
“I would tell you that anyone who wants to have a respectful, decent dialogue on issues and be respectful and not be disparaging or bullying or intimidate or harass – I look forward to having dialogue with those sort of folks,” he said.
Dilkens said he will “look forward to a full review” from the integrity commissioner and that these types of issues tend to come up around election time.
“I’ve never sworn at the mayor, I’ve never harassed the mayor… I’m entitled to fair comment and to ask questions,” said Liedtke. “It seems to me this mayor has a problem with criticism.”
Busy week for commissioner’s office
This is the third case involving the commissioner’s office in the past week.
Edy Haddad had filed a complaint with the commissioner about Coun. Rino Bortolin, who is running in the provincial election in Windsor West.
He claims Bortolin swore at him and other party members during an annual general meeting in March.
Then on Monday, while council was discussing another complaint over the language used by Bortolin, Coun. John Elliott made a comment that sparked another formal complaint.
Elliott used the phrase “man up” when calling on Bortolin to take responsibility for comments he made back in October, and apologize.
Jessica Bondy was in the chamber and filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner the next day.
“This type of language, this type of gender stereotyping, promoting sexism, shouldn’t be allowed in council chambers,” she said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with being a man.”
The commissioner recommended a “reprimand” against Coun. Bortolin because of “rape” comments he made to the media in October.
Bortolin, who said he will apologize as asked, told reporters after the council meeting he will be more careful about what he has to say.