Matt Whitman apologizes for “Chinese fire drill” video

“I never meant to offend or hurt anyone. I have learned from this experience.”

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Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets councillor Matt Whitman has learned from all this. - RILEY SMITH
  • RILEY SMITH
  • Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets councillor Matt Whitman has learned from all this.

Progressive Conservative candidate Matt Whitman has apologized for his “Chinese fire drill” stunt.

Whitman posted a YouTube video last week of himself yelling the racially-charged phrase before exiting and then running around his car.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, the Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets councillor said he wasn’t aware of the term's racist connotations.

“I apologize for my lapse of judgement and my unintentional use of what I now understand to be an insensitive term,” Whitman writes. “I never meant to offend or hurt anyone. I have learned from this experience.”

The video was removed this week after media questions, with Whitman telling Global and the Canadian Press that it had become a “distraction.” He quickly brushed past reporters on his way to council chambers Tuesday afternoon, refusing to comment on the matter.

The phrase “Chinese fire drill” is best-known these days for the roadside game normally played by teenagers, but using “Chinese” to refer to a scene of confusion and incomprehension dates back to World War I. According to NPR: “After the two world wars, ‘Chinese’ continued to be used as a descriptor to indicate things that were hasty, cheap or amateur.”

The RCMP are apparently now investigating whether the councillor’s videotaped actions were a traffic violation.

It’s not the first run-in Whitman's had with RCMP, nor the first time his sloppy social media use has gotten the councillor into hot water.

Last winter he was ordered by Regional Council to make a public apology after publishing “inappropriate tweets” about an RCMP officer. That was around the same time Whitman appeared to casually reveal confidential information while denigrating former CAO Richard Butts in a radio interview.


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