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Lantzville distances itself from mayor's social media comments on Nanaimo referendum

Lantzville District Hall shown above. - Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN
Lantzville District Hall shown above.
— image credit: Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN

The District of Lantzville has issued a press release to clarify that recent comments made on social media by its mayor are not reflective of members of council nor the district as a whole.

On Monday, councillors voted 3-2 to have district staff issue a statement as a result of comments made on Facebook by Mayor Colin Haime about Nanaimo city council and staff.

The comments stem from a Facebook post on March 11 regarding the recent events centre referendum results. Haime replied to a post that was questioning whether the referendum was more a vote of “non-confidence” toward Nanaimo councillors.

“[Nanaimo] Council thought they were invincible (or at least 5 of them) because they control the agenda. They saw a shiny new toy and wanted to create their legacy rather than serve the people’s best interests,” Haime wrote in the post, which also questioned city staff’s experience.

Coun. Mark Swain, who made the motion to issue a press release, told councillors that the comments were out of line and don’t do anything to help foster a better relationship with Nanaimo.

“It does concern me that we have a representative of our community unfortunately ruffling the feathers of people we would like to work with collaboratively,” he said.

Coun. Denise Haime, Colin Haime's wife, said the mayor wasn’t speaking on Facebook as a representative of Lantzville, but as a regular citizen.

“He has that right to do that,” she said. “At no time did he say he represented the District of Lantzville or the district council of Lantzville.”

Coun. Dot Neary said the situation made her uncomfortable because she recognizes an individual’s right to free speech, but is concerned because the comments came from the mayor, who has been one of the most recognizable individuals in Lantzville for years.

She pointed out that the profile photo Colin Haime used while making the comments on Facebook is either the same or a very similar photo of the official photo in the News Bulletin. She said the need for a press release is “redundant,” but “necessary” given the high profile nature of the referendum.

Coun. Will Geselbracht questioned Haime’s motives behind the comments and asked whether the Lantzville mayor might be auditioning as a potential political candidate for the next Nanaimo election.

“If it is his intent to perhaps run for Nanaimo council, or run for mayor of Nanaimo, well that’s good. But announce it. Tell us that that is his intention and then go for it. Spend all day on social media getting ready for an election in Nanaimo in 2018, but don’t do it under the guise of our mayor of Lantzville,” Geselbracht said.

Colin Haime told the News Bulletin, he stands behind his comments and the motion was made to attract media attention and is an example of 'gotcha' politics.

Haime also rejected Geselbracht’s suggestion he plans to run for office in Nanaimo next election.

“I don’t live in Nanaimo and I have never lived in Nanaimo, so from that standpoint I would not be running for Nanaimo council,” he said.

The mayor declared a conflict and left the chamber before the motion was discussed.

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