St. Clair fire chief retiring

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Retirement comes one day after township had completed a probe into online comments about violence

St. Clair Fire Chief Walt Anderson is retiring at the end of the month.

He tendered his retirement papers after township council met privately with him to review a report about comments promoting violence in the federal election on the chief’s social media feeds.

Earlier this month, users on Twitter flagged the personal account of Anderson under a National Post story about protestors following the Prime Minister around on the campaign trail. There were widely condemned photos depicting the hanging of Justin Trudeau. Under the post, Anderson’s feed said “Time for Canadians to stand up if that means violence so be it.”

Online, people questioned the exchange. By the noon hour, Anderson was warning his followers, he might have been hacked.

The township launched an investigation, but Mayor Steve Arnold said Anderson had been “impersonated” online.

The chief – in an email to The Independent – suggested the same thing. “I contacted the providers to see what accounts they were posted on and to have the accounts deleted.”

A day after the comments were questioned, Anderson’s personal Facebook and Twitter accounts had been deleted, although screenshots of the offending tweets were circulating on Twitter.

A scan of Anderson’s personal Facebook feed before it was scrubbed showed several posts criticizing the current government including one which seems to compare Trudeau with Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx.

Arnold says the results from the investigation into the chief’s social media use were discussed privately this week. “We had discussions with him. The evidence came forward from all the different investigations stuff and so council asked a whole bunch of questions. And it was all in camera, of course. Then after the in camera session was done within a couple of days that’s when Chief Anderson announced he was going to retire,” says Arnold.

Anderson’s last day will be Sept. 29. It’s not clear how long it will take to recruit a new chief for the municipality.