Integrity commissioner rules against Vancouver mayor over tweets about city councillor

·3 min read
Vancouver's integrity commissioner has found that Mayor Kennedy Stewart breached a section of the city's Code of Conduct when he published a series of tweets about councillor Colleen Hardwick that were found to be untrue. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Vancouver's integrity commissioner has found that Mayor Kennedy Stewart breached a section of the city's Code of Conduct when he published a series of tweets about councillor Colleen Hardwick that were found to be untrue. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The City of Vancouver's integrity commissioner has found Mayor Kennedy Stewart violated the municipal code of conduct when he posted a series of tweets about city councillor Colleen Hardwick in March.

Integrity Commissioner Lisa Southern outlined her decision in a 42-page report released July 5 regarding Kennedy's comments on a draft motion by Hardwick, with respect to her request for a plebiscite to determine whether Vancouver residents were interested in a bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

"Mayor Stewart breached section 3.4(a) of the Code of Conduct when he published Tweets that were not accurate about Councillor Hardwick," Southern said in the report.

The Code of Conduct by-law sets out rules members have to follow in fulfilling their duties as an elected or appointed official.

That section says council members "must ensure that their communications accurately reflect the facts of council decisions."

The accusation

In the tweets, Stewart accused Hardwick of violating a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the City of Vancouver, the resort municipality of Whistler, and the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Wautuh and Lil'wat nations.

Stewart said council approved the MOU to work with the nations to explore how the Olympic bid might become "the world's first reconciliation games."

 

"The MOU is a critical component of our UNDRIP obligations — now formalized in provincial law — as it outlined a clear process for all to follow in good faith which, at its conclusion, includes council voting on a recommendation and may still involve community votes," Stewart wrote in one of the tweets.

He added he didn't support Hardwick's draft motion, and urged other councillors to consider what Hardwick's decision — which he described as "tearing up" the MOU — says about their own commitment to reconciliation.

According to the report, Hardwick said in response that her motion didn't violate the agreement, and confirmed the original draft motion was submitted to the city clerk in February.

She said she sought input from staff and council, and at no time was the MOU mentioned as a concern by anyone consulted in the period leading up to the council meeting.

She also argued her motion was not anti-reconciliation and did not violate UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) obligations.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

According to the report, Stewart stood by his comment, stating that "my tweets affirm my understanding of the applicability and validity of this MOU."

Southern has recommended the public record be corrected to reflect that the motion wasn't in violation of the MOU.

She also said the mayor and council should get more training on their obligations under the Code of Conduct.

Olympics 2030

Back in June, the four B.C. First Nations and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced their concept for how the province could host the 2030 Winter Olympics.

The plan includes details for where the events would be held, and an outline for how an Indigenous-led games would showcase their cultures and history.

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Chief Wayne Sparrow said at the announcement that all of the nations would take the next few months to consult with their communities and decide whether they wanted to go through with a formal bid with the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Sparrow said he hopes the city will accept whatever decision is made by the host nations on whether to move forward, without a firm yes-or-no council vote or plebiscite.

CBC News reached out to Hardwick and the mayor's office for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

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