Councillors vote to reprimand Keenan Aylwin, following Integrity Commissioner report
After a heated debate Barrie City Councillors have given the initial vote to reprimand Councillor Keenan Aylwin for violating the city’s code of conduct in a social media post. They will vote on the issue again at City Council next Monday.
The controversy stems from a post Aylwin made on Facebook on March 21, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. In it, Aylwin specifically addresses Barrie-area MPs John Brassard and Alex Nuttall saying,
"We have two Conservative MPs in Barrie that have been silent on their leader's appearance on the same stage as a neo-Nazi sympathizer. This is unacceptable, and it is dangerous. They are playing footsies with white supremacists who have inspired violence through Yellow Vest Canada social media channels and elsewhere."
Brassard took offence to the post and filed a complaint with Integrity Commissioner Suzanne Craig. Craig found Aylwin had violated the code of conduct and recommended he be reprimanded.
Craig presented her report to councillors Monday night, saying this issue is not about free speech. She says Aylwin went further than stating his opinion with the post, and that Aylwin used language that was offensive and disrespectful.
Councillor Aylwin disagrees with the report’s findings and says his Facebook post had been misinterpreted in the report.
Councillors voted in support of Craig's findings and her recommendation to reprimand him, adding they also want Aylwin to remove the Facebook post.
Following the vote, Aylwin told CTV News that “This is decision isn’t final and a lot can happen in a week. I will be in touch with my legal counsel and we will be fighting this in court. I will stand by what I said.”
Mayor Jeff Lehman said after the vote that a social media policy for councillors is likely to be implemented in the future.
“A more detailed social media policy, that lays out what is and isn’t appropriate for the role of councillors may be necessary.”
Councillors will be casting their final vote on the issue next Monday.