Impolitic Twitter post prompts apology

A Vancouver city councillor has apologized to B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman for getting personal on Twitter.
Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer posted a tweet she regretted and has apologized to a B.C. cabinet minister. ((CBC))

A Vancouver city councillor has apologized to B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman for getting personal on Twitter.

Coun. Andrea Reimer disagreed with Coleman's policy contained in a bill called the Assistance to Shelter Act that he introduced in the legislature Thursday. The bill would empower police during very cold weather to pick up homeless people and drop them off at shelters.

Reimer expressed her disagreement in a message she posted on the social media site, Twitter. But the message also was an implicit comment on Coleman's physique.

"Thinking about introducing a motion requiring police to pick up Minister Coleman next time he's in Vancouver and drop him off at Jenny Craig," Reimer's tweet said.

Jenny Craig is an international company that sells weight-loss products and programs.

"It's not appropriate to bring personal issues into public policy debates," Reimer told CBC News Friday.

Posts can quickly go viral

Reimer said her cellphone was suddenly feeling "like a loaded weapon." She said she regretted the incident and had apologized to Coleman in a letter.

Coleman was not available for comment Friday.

B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman was the subject of an indiscreet tweet that quickly went viral. ((CBC))

One social media consultant contacted by CBC News noted that the ways of social media are still uncharted territory for many people.

"It's a new, nuanced social behaviour that we haven't quite figured out yet," said Darren Barefoot of Capulet Communications in Vancouver.

Barefoot said one's phone might feel private, but each post we make could be read by thousands of people.

His advice was never to blog or tweet in anger.

"The remark she made might be totally fine down at the bar to her friends or family or something. But in this larger public space, [it] might cross a line," said Barefoot.

Reimer said she is not going to stop using Twitter, but she plans to be more careful.

"I would hope that this doesn't scare public policy-makers off of being involved in social media sites because I don't think there are enough of them involved," Reimer said.