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Calgary councillor takes aim at misinformation, says it's the worst in nine years

Last Updated Dec 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm MDT

City council convenes for a meeting on Dec. 6, 2018 (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — “Weaponized misinformation.”

Those are the words that have been used by Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating this week at Calgary City Hall, as he has confronted a series of false statements inside the council chambers.

On Thursday, during a Transportation and Transit Committee meeting, there was a spat between councillors Evan Woolley and Sean Chu. Woolley criticized Chu about a statistic over the number of cyclists in the city, saying that Chu knowingly used a false number.

Chu then criticized Woolley for taking a personal shot at him, at which point Keating — the committee chair — intervened and said they do need to be more vocal about misinformation.

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Earlier in the week, Keating used the same two words during a committee meeting when Ward 11’s Jeromy Farkas discussed the size of protests when federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau visited the city.

Farkas told reporters he received that information from social media.

Outside the chambers, Keating told reporters the problem is worsening.

“Within the last year, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t mind saying that out front. This council is more intent on giving out misinformation than I have seen in my nine years.”

He is calling for more authority to call it out during the meetings and says councillors or staff should not be shy.

“It’s got to be done now,” said Keating. “So that we can’t continue on this idea of I can say something today and by the time someone really corrects me, it’s three weeks there and nobody cares.”

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The councillor adds some of the false information is coming from outside groups, which is then relayed by his colleagues and it becomes part of the official record.

“Why are we not giving them the authority when we hear something, and when we see things by other organizations out there, that we know is incorrect? I believe administration and council has the absolute responsibility to get a detailed correction out.”