Bike Winnipeg calling for Russ Wyatt to be removed from city committee following ‘offensive’ comments

A local organization is calling on a Winnipeg councillor to be removed from the public works committee following comments made at a meeting on Tuesday.

In a news release Wednesday, Bike Winnipeg said its executive director Mark Cohoe submitted a presentation on the intersection of Osborne Street and River Avenue.

During the meeting, Bike Winnipeg said Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt was commenting on the report and “characterized Cohoe and other delegations as ‘Bike Nazis.'”

“Use of the term ‘Nazi’ is not only offensive, it is also harmful to generations affected by Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews in the 1930s and 1940s,” Bike Winnipeg said in a release.

“The fact an elected official would use such language in a public meeting without immediate censure should be of concern to every Winnipeg citizen.”

Bike Winnipeg is now calling for Wyatt to be removed from the public works committee for violation of the Code of Conduct for councillors.

Mayor Scott Gillingham was asked about the incident Wednesday, saying Wyatt’s comments were unacceptable.

“I would encourage the councillor to retract his comments and to address Bike Winnipeg,” said Gillingham.

Speaking to the media Wednesday afternoon, Wyatt said he doesn’t deny using the term and said he would take the suggestion to apologize into consideration.

“When I said that, it was out of frustration. A number of us councillors have been advocating for bike paths to be built,” said Wyatt. “They’re coming to say, ‘take lanes away from cars, people shouldn’t be driving cars.'”

Wyatt said to him, the word Nazi means dictator – someone who tells others how to live their lives.

“That’s really what it’s coming down to. You hear from them speaking in the committee, they’re saying, ‘Here’s how people should live their life.'”

Just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Wyatt issued an emailed statement saying he has read the Bike Winnipeg release, and regrets his choice of words.

“In terms of saying ‘Bicycle Nazis,’ which was not referring to any one person specifically, as is being claimed now, (as I would never call any person that name), was expressed out of a sense of frustration, as noted above, but was a very poor choice of words, which I regret, and therefore at this opportunity do wish to humbly apologize for,” he said in the email.

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