03/08/2013 07:18 EST | Updated 03/08/2013 07:23 EST

Barry Whiteley, Calgary Herald Letter Writer, Under Fire (TWEETS)

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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Photo gallery Calgary Reaction To Barry Whiteley's Letter See Gallery

"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.'