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Social media code for Ottawa city hall gets mixed council reaction

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There are varying degrees of support around the Ottawa city council table for the idea city leaders could have to follow a social media code of conduct to encourage better behaviour.

The debate was triggered by Innes Coun. Laura Dudas, who submitted an inquiry to city staff Wednesday about how the city would investigate cyberbullying directed at councillors and staff.

Dudas is asking the integrity commissioner and clerk to study existing policies to see if they go far enough to curb the involvement of city staff, compare them to other jurisdictions and explore the possibility of punishment.

While her motion refers to social media in general, much of it and the discussion around it has centred around Twitter.

Dudas said she had been a target of online abuse triggered in part by a tweet from Coun. Shawn Menard, with people piling on to question the motives of certain city councillors perceived as members of the mayor’s inner circle.

 

 

Menard said he stands by the content of the tweet, though he said it was “harsh.” He said he’s reluctant to embrace the idea of “tone-policing” councillors on social media.

“Equating criticism with cyberbullying and then asking for punitive measures is going to an extreme,” Menard said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Mayor supports code

Menard added he spoke with Mayor Jim Watson about his tweet.

The mayor said he accepted Menard’s apology and thanked him for stepping up.

“We had a wake-up call by Coun. Dudas that we still have to do better,” Watson said.

“I hope that there is something that comes back from the integrity commissioner and the clerk that allows us to set some code of conduct so we’re not always attacking one another.”

Watson said social media could be a “cowardly medium” where people can attack public figures without identifying themselves

He previously backed down from a court battle about whether he could block people from following his Twitter account.

Are new rules necessary?

Coun. Jeff Leiper said he has blocked accounts on his main account — usually spambots or abusive accounts — and those kinds of questions may need to be hashed out in pursuing this kind of policy.

He’s wary of creating new rules.

“We already have a lot of the expectations set out in our code of conduct,” he said.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be the voters who determine whether or not the tone that is set by the councillor is acceptable to them.”

 

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said existing code of conduct rules should guide how councillors act on social media. (CBC)

 

Leiper said he doesn’t consider his account a taxpayer resource, since he doesn’t use a work phone to post on social media and is using the same account he had before he was elected.

He has a separate constituency account for his staff.

‘Leading by example’

Coun. Scott Moffatt said while he often spars or challenges people on Twitter, it is important for councillors to maintain a respectful tone on social media.

He’s generally supportive of Dudas’ inquiry.

“Sometimes rhetoric can open a door to more divisive and more disrespectful rhetoric from non-councillors on Twitter. It really comes down to leading by example,” Moffatt said.

 

 

Moffatt said he’d consider a public apology, similar to what happens when a councillor is unparliamentary in council chambers, an appropriate punishment for inappropriate conduct on social media.

He added it’s important that rules touch on the treatment of city staff who, unlike councillors, wouldn’t take to social media to defend themselves.

These types of inquiries always get a response at a city meeting, even if it’s that there’s nothing that can be done.

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CP Rail conductor fired for social media posts awarded money, but won’t get job back – Global News

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An arbitrator says a former Canadian Pacific train conductor who was fired over social media posts is entitled to monetary compensation, but not to getting her job back at the railroad.

Stephanie Katelnikoff was dismissed in November 2017 over disparaging remarks she made about the company online as well as modelling photos that were taken on railway property.


READ MORE:
CP Rail says conductor fired for safety issues, not racy social media posts

Union lawyers representing Katelnikoff argued the company’s investigation into her conduct was not fair or partial.

Arbitrator Richard Hornung says in his December decision, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, that he agreed with the Teamsters union.

He says some of Katelnikoff’s behaviour warranted a short suspension, but not a dismissal.

LISTEN: Stephanie Katelnikoff responds to CP Rail’s claim that she was fired for safety issues

However, Hornung says social media posts after her firing, especially a sexually suggestive one mentioning the CP investigating officer by name, make it untenable for her to go back to the railroad.

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He says in the decision that the post “speaks volumes regarding both her lack of respect for the company and her unsuitability to return to the company as a fully participating employee.”

The union also argued at the arbitration hearing that an emailed complaint about Katelnikoff’s online posts came from a fake person the company made up to give it the pretext for an investigation. Hornung says in his decision that it’s improbable the email came from a legitimate functional address.

CP was not immediately available to comment.

Katelnikoff said in an interview that it’s now up to her union representatives and the company to try to work out an appropriate compensation amount. If they can’t agree, it goes back to the arbitrator.

She said she loved her job at the railroad and is sad she’ll likely never get to work as a conductor again. She’s now working in a shop fixing heavy equipment and trailers for a fraction of the pay.

“I’m with a really good company now so that helps take away the sting of not getting to go back to the railroad,” said Katelnikoff, 30. “At least I’m somewhere that I like and they treat me really well and they’re really understanding and progressive.”

Katelnikoff said she eventually wants to go to law school so that she can help others.

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READ MORE:
CP Rail fires conductor over racy social media pictures

In addition to the railroad photos, CP seemed to take issue with racy pictures posted to the same Instagram account where there was a 2017 selfie of her in a work vest.

Katelnikoff said she’s tired of hearing about women getting flak for what they do outside of work.

“What a girl does in her spare time when she goes home with her life and her body isn’t anybody else’s business but her own. And if it’s not hurting anyone, then it really shouldn’t matter to the company.”

Katelnikoff’s 2017 dismissal was the second time she was let go from the railway.


READ MORE:
Rail line reopens after CP Rail train derailment near Banff

On Boxing Day in 2014, a train Katelnikoff was conducting derailed, sending 15 cars off the tracks in Banff, Alta. The Transportation Safety Board determined that a broken piece of track caused the crash.

She was fired a month later. The company said it was because she violated rules on injury reporting and protecting an accident scene.

In February 2016, an arbitrator found in Katelnikoff’s favour, saying the grounds for her termination were discriminatory and in bad faith.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Social media users claim double standard over German attack – Al Jazeera English

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A deadly shooting in the German city of Hanau on Thursday by a far-right gunman sent shock waves around the world.

At least nine people were killed in a shisha bar, with foreign and German citizens among the dead. The suspect, identified as Tobias R, a 43-year-old white male, was found dead at his apartment along with his mother, according to officials.

Germany’s federal prosecutor said the suspected perpetrator’s 24-page manifesto and video messages pointed to “deeply racist views”. 

Despite strong reactions from world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, some social media users pointed out that response to the story was somewhat muted – suggesting it would’ve gained more traction had the attacker been a Muslim.

Others pointed out why some news outlets had chosen to simply refer to the assailant as a “deranged gunman” and not a “terrorist” – or refused to describe the incident as a case of “Islamophobia”.

United States President Donald Trump, who has been criticised in the past for his noticeably more vocal condemnation of attacks committed by Muslims, rather than those targeting Muslims, was yet to comment on the incident at the time of publication.

‘Hated non-whites’

Peter R Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, analysed the suspect’s 24-page manifesto in which he revealed that “he hated foreigners and non-whites”.

“Although he doesn’t emphasise Islam, he calls for the extermination of various countries in North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia (which all happen to be majority Muslim).”

There have been a number of far-right attacks in recent years in Germany, with violence rising sharply in 2015 when the country took in more than one million migrants.

The German domestic intelligence agency estimated that the number of violent crimes with far-right elements rose by 3 percent in 2018, although attacks on centres for asylum seekers fell after a spike in 2015 and 2016.

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Watch Live: Oilers GM Ken Holland addresses media – Sportsnet.ca

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