A letter to the editor published in a major Calgary newspaper is raising debate — not over whether it was racist
but whether it should have been published at all.

Barry Whiteley wrote a letter titled 'Speak English' to The Calgary Herald, expressing outrage that some Canadians speak a language other than English or French in public.

He also called himself "patriotic" and said patriotism was labelled as racism.

The letter recounts an encounter with a group of "Italian-or Spanish-speaking men," who the writer confronted, telling them that Canadians only speak the official languages of English or French.

When the men ignored him, Whiteley says he got up and yelled: "You want to speak your language, go back to your country."

The letter sparked criticism online: "I have a hard time believing this Calgary Herald piece actually exists," tweeted Brogan McPherson.

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  • Chris McClure

    Sad to see bigots like this in #yyc, sadder still to see @calgaryherald pandering to them http://t.co/HIy3tbsnWV

  • Buzz Bishop

    Read this and be embarrassed to be called a Calgarian. http://t.co/KjSKG30yGs via @calgaryherald

  • Henna Singh

    @modernniche @calgaryherald really makes you wonder, eh? Do they just print any letter they receive?

  • Brieanne Elise

    Trying to wrap my head around why the @calgaryherald published this. http://t.co/uLESb28f7y

  • Henna Singh

    @brie_elise @calgaryherald needs to publish an apology for publishing that letter.

  • Mrs.Pedersen

    Insane! “@myownbiggestfan: Please, join me in my disgust at this idiotic letter to the @calgaryherald. http://t.co/yfGBirImPs”

  • Modern Niche

    @CanadianBeauty @calgaryherald what a racist jerk. Can't believe the Herald would give that guy even an inch of print. Blah

  • Kris Kotarski

    This @calgaryherald letter has to be someone trolling, right? http://t.co/WRf9iqqrLS #YYC #calgary

  • Allison McNeely

    Good work @calgaryherald publishing a racist, pointless diatribe. Fail. http://t.co/PThE1W66RM via @brie_elise

  • Melissa Fiacco

    @AlexKGT @brie_elise I understand that editorials aren't meant to be unbiased, but this is discriminatory. Poor judgement @calgaryherald.

  • Ksenia Thurgood

    Barry Whiteley makes me ashamed to be based in yyc. @calgaryherald why did you publish his letter? #confused&disappointed #hoax?

  • brogan mcpherson

    I have a hard time believing this @calgaryherald piece actually exists.

  • Cameron Macgowan

    @MattSander @calgaryherald Why the hell would the herald publish the mad ravings of this hick?

  • HermanThind

    @chrisjmcclure @calgaryherald Shame "politically correct" speech has been replaced with "right to be racist". Stop celebrating haters #arc

  • M. Wonderful

    @brie_elise That @calgaryherald article is the most bizarre thing I've ever read in a major newspaper. Is it satire? /cc @allisonmcneely

  • Dave Kotsibie

    @buzzbishop more embarrassing for @calgaryherald to stoop that low to actually print it.

  • Ksenia Thurgood

    Barry Whiteley makes me ashamed to be based in yyc. @calgaryherald why did you publish his letter? #confused&disappointed #hoax?

"Someone has a tragic misunderstanding of how official languages work," said a HuffPost commenter.

"I understand that editorials aren't meant to be unbiased, but this is discriminatory. Poor judgement," tweeted Melissa Fiacco.

This is not the first time a Calgary Herald letter to the editor has created controversy. In August 2012, Walt Wawra, a concerned U.S. police officer, said he did not feel safe without his gun during a visit to Calgary.

Wawra's letter was picked up by media across Canada and the U.S., including Gawker which ran an article titled 'American Becomes Laughing Stock of Canada.'

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