Halifax councillor Matt Whitman says he had no idea that a letter to city council that he retweeted on Thursday afternoon came from a white nationalist group.
The letter came from a group called ID Canada, which chastised Halifax Regional Council for taking down a statue of Edward Cornwallis, calling the decision "an unforgivable offence."
"This incident is a worrying manifestation of a brutal disregard towards the accomplishments of Canada's European founders," the letter reads.
On its website, the group describes itself as an ethno-nationalist group created in 2014 "as a response to Canada's decaying identity, increased third-world immigration and the prevalence of anti-European sentiments in this country."
After Whitman retweeted the letter, deputy mayor Waye Mason responded in a tweet of his own, saying, "You are retweeting a neo-Nazi hate group. I am speechless. What the hell is wrong with you?"
@matlantivex You are retweeting a neo-nazi hate group. I am speechless. What the hell is wrong with you?— @WayeMason
"It's just really disappointing. When I looked at the retweet, just at a glance you could tell that it was a racist group. It doesn't take any analysis," Mason told the CBC. "It just shows a lack of judgment that it was retweeted at all.… The excuses wear thin when it keeps happening."
Tweet has since been deleted
Whitman told CBC he "had no idea" about the nature of the group.
"It was just a letter sent to the mayor and council. And they tweeted it and I retweeted it. I didn't have a chance to check what their background was, who they are, where they are," he said.
Whitman said on Twitter after Mason and CBC brought it to his attention, he deleted the retweet and blocked the group.
He also blocked Mason, his fellow city councillor.
As soon as Waye and CBC brought to my attention I blocked the group. Next.— @matlantivex
This isn't the first time Whitman has come under fire for comments made on social media, particularly concerning race.
Last spring, Whitman apologized after posting a video online where he yelled the phrase, "Chinese fire drill!" He and another passenger were sitting in a car and after yelling the phrase, Whitman got out of the car to switch seats with the passenger.
In October, during an interview with CTV Atlantic regarding the word marijuana, Whitman used the word "Negro" while arguing that a nationality isn't a race. He has since apologized for those comments.
In February 2016, Whitman was ordered by Halifax council to apologize after a tweet regarding an RCMP officer. Whitman criticized an RCMP officer on Twitter who fined his neighbour $406 for using an ATV to widen a snow-covered street.
"Very disappointed in the #RCMP officer who ticketed a Kingswood 4 wheeler with a plow for tidying up his culdesac #PowerTrip #GetALife," the tweet said.
Whitman apologized after being ordered to do so and told CBC he would think twice before tweeting in the future.
'It doesn't really fly with me'
"Given Matt's inappropriate use of Twitter and I hesitate to say frequent, but repeated mistakes on issues to do with race, you would think that he would be more careful before he retweeted anything," Mason said.
"Just a month or two ago he promised to stay off of Twitter forever and it lasted two weeks. It doesn't really fly with me. He should be more careful given his history with these kinds of mistakes."
When asked on Thursday whether he would be more cautious in the future, Whitman simply said, "Perhaps."
Mason said the consequences for councillors demonstrating inappropriate behaviour in Nova Scotia are few and far between.
"So I'm not sure what can and will be done at this point," he said.
My advice to Matt:— @WayeMason
Apologize for not taking the time to actually know what you were retweeting.
Reflect that you keep making the same mistakes and not learning.
Resist trying to transfer blame because you are uncomfortable with making this kind of mistake again.