Kitchener-Waterloo

Wilmot Township mayor says people 'only offended because they misinterpreted' Facebook post

Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong says he's sorry that people were offended by his sharing of a 'White Lives Matter' Facebook video. But he says he has no regrets about sharing it.

Les Armstrong says aim of sharing post was to spark conversation

Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong says he has no immediate plans to change what he posts online going forward. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Wilmot Township Mayor Les Armstrong says he's sorry that people were offended by a Facebook video framed by the banner "White Lives Matter." But he says he has no regrets about sharing it.

"It wasn't my intent to offend anybody," Les Armstrong told CBC News.

"If I did, I'm sorry, and they're only offended because they misinterpreted what I wanted to say."

Armstrong has since deleted the post.

He maintains that he shared the video on his personal Facebook page because he wanted to start a conversation about racism — not because he agreed with the subject matter.  

Armstrong said he has no immediate plans to change what he posts on social media going forward. 

Redman expects clarification tonight

As mayor of Wilmot Township, Armstrong also serves on regional council, which will hold a virtual meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. 

Regional chair Karen Redman watched the video herself and told CBC News she found the message "appalling."

She said the meeting will give Armstrong a chance to clarify his position on the matter. Afterwards, she said council will consider its options.

"I'm sure there will be people who are anxious to hear if he still stands by some of the comments he made to the media or if he's reconsidered," said Redman.   

Redman declined to speculate about how council might proceed from there.  

The situation comes after weeks of protests against anti-Black racism across North America and in Waterloo region. 

"This is a time when [regional council] is trying really hard to be reflective," Redman said. "We're all trying to build bridges and this is a really unfortunate choice."

'I would encourage him to say sorry'

Wilmot Ward 4 councillor Jennifer Pfenning said she plans to watch tonight's council meeting. (Submitted by Jennifer Pfenning)

Jennifer Pfenning, Ward 4 councillor in Wilmot Township, said she too plans to keep a close eye on tonight's regional council meeting.

Pfenning had pressed Armstrong to take down his Facebook post during a Wilmot council meeting Monday night.

"Ultimately only he can answer for his actions. The rest of council, we've made our feelings on the subject and our position on the subject clear," she said.

"I would encourage him to actually say sorry, apologize and acknowledge the hurt it caused."

When asked about how he plans to fight racism in Wilmot Township, Armstrong said he looks forward to having further conversations on the subject with a "broad variety of people."

"I'm always available for people to talk to me, if we have a chat and they still don't accept what I have to say, there's nothing I can do about that," he said.

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