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Integrity commissioner rules against Kennedy Stewart for Twitter posts about Colleen Hardwick

Hardwick: ‘He was wrong and the voters of Vancouver lost an opportunity to have their say’
Vancouver’s Integrity Commissioner Lisa Southern has ruled against Mayor Kennedy Stewart in an investigation related to a series of tweets he wrote about Coun. Colleen Hardwick’s motion related to an Olympic plebiscite.

Vancouver’s integrity commissioner has ruled against Mayor Kennedy Stewart for comments he made via Twitter about a motion drafted by councillor Colleen Hardwick concerning her request for a plebiscite to gauge whether citizens wanted another Olympics.

Lisa Southern’s report was posted to the city’s website Friday (July 8) and recommended the public record be corrected to reflect that Hardwick’s motion was not in violation of an agreement signed between the governments of Vancouver and Whistler with the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Wautuh and Lil’wat nations.

“Mayor Stewart breached section 3.4(a) of the Code of Conduct when he published tweets that were not accurate about councillor Hardwick,” said Southern, referring to the section of the Code that says council members “must ensure that their communications accurately reflect the facts of council decisions.”

The Code of Conduct bylaw sets out rules that council members must follow in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as elected officials. It is this Code that Southern considered in her investigation and subsequent ruling.

At issue was a series of tweets Stewart made March 24 in response to a Vancouver Is Awesome story that reported Hardwick’s intent to introduce a motion at a council meeting to give the public a say on whether they wanted a 2030 Olympics.

Stewart said the motion violated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that Vancouver and Whistler entered into in October 2021 with the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Wautuh and Lil’wat nations related to a potential Olympic bid.

'Commitments to reconciliation'

In another tweet, the mayor said city council approved the MOU to work in partnership with the nations to explore how the 2030 Olympics 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 continued.

“I will not second this motion. I urge other councillors to consider what supporting @CllrHardwick’s decision to essentially tear up our MOU says about their own commitments to reconciliation.”

Hardwick complained the next day to the commissioner and wrote a detailed account of her concerns about the mayor’s tweets, arguing that her motion did not violate the agreement with the nations.

She pointed out that her motion was not flagged by city staff as being in violation of the MOU. Hardwick also argued her motion was not anti-reconciliation and did not violate obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


In the commissioner’s interview with Stewart, Southern said the mayor stood by his tweets and maintained his position by stating that “my tweets affirm my understanding of the applicability and validity of this MOU.”

Stewart also told the commissioner he used the influence of his office appropriately — which Hardwick argued he didn’t, with Southern ultimately agreeing with the mayor’s position.

“Mayor Stewart’s responses to the complaint focused on reconciliation and he elaborated on the importance of having oral traditions, building trust and exercising good faith when working with First Nation partners,” Southern wrote.

“He said that when the motion first surfaced, it was viewed as a ‘betrayal’ of the MOU by the First Nations signatories to the MOU and he provided names of witnesses to support that this was their interpretation, and not his alone.”

However, during the investigation, Stewart conceded that “by definition there is nothing in the MOU” that was violated by the motion.

But he maintained that “the broader understanding between the signatories to the MOU was that the intended function of the MOU was to encourage the respective parties to engage in exploratory discussions among themselves and to bring those discussions back to the Host Nations Exploratory Assembly prior to determining how to move forward.”

In Stewart’s view, according to Southern, Hardwick’s motion was a unilateral action that undermined the efforts undertaken by the Host Nations Exploratory Assembly. The mayor’s error, Southern wrote, was in “the characterization of the motion as a violation of the MOU, which it was not.”

“Consistent with the Code of Conduct, this report will be published as one effort to correct that record,” Southern said. “We also recommend further training for Mayor Stewart and council on their obligations under section 3.4(b) of the Code of Conduct.”

Section 3.4(b) of the Code requires council members to “ensure that all communications relating to council business are accurate and not issue any communication that the member knows, or ought to have known, to be false.”

'An attack on me'

Hardwick said in an email Friday that she was grateful to the commissioner for helping to “set the record straight” regarding Stewart’s tweets.

“Before I put my motion forward, I ran it by staff who had no issue with it,” Hardwick said. “So, I was surprised with Kennedy Stewart’s tweets, which were not just factually incorrect, but also aimed at misrepresenting my position on the Olympics, reconciliation and the MOU itself.”

Hardwick said her motion “was simply to give Vancouverites their say” in the same sort of plebiscite conducted before the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The mayor’s tweets, she said, “set up a very negative tone and when my motion at council didn’t even get a seconder, it meant the whole issue was taken off the table at city hall.” 

Added Hardwick: “While Kennedy Stewart’s tweets were an attack on me, I also believe he owes the people of Vancouver an apology for the misleading tweets, and how they coloured the public discussion around the proposed plebiscite. He was wrong, and the voters of Vancouver lost an opportunity to have their say. I believed then, as I do now, that the people of Vancouver should not be ignored and forced to stand on the sidelines when big issues are being decided about their city.”

In an emailed statement Friday, Stewart said: “I thank the integrity commissioner for her work, and agree with her findings that a more accurate use of words would have been to say councillor Hardwick’s motion violated the spirit of the MOU, which it did.”

Southern’s ruling means council must within 30 days of delivery of the investigation report decide on appropriate measures, if any, that are warranted by the breach of the bylaw.


Sanctions that may be imposed for violating the bylaw include:

• a letter of reprimand from council addressed to the member.

• a request from council that the member issue a letter of apology.

• a recommendation that the member attend specific training or counselling.

• suspension or removal of the appointment of a council member as the deputy mayor.

• suspension or removal of the council member from some or all council committees and bodies to which the council member was appointed by council.

• public censure of a member.

Vancouver Is Awesome reported July 6 that the commissioner has received 22 complaints this year about council members.   

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