Not only did former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart and all of his Forward Together candidates lose on election day, but his campaign broke the law.
Elections BC determined that Stewart’s campaign sent an email on election day that violated the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.
Specifically, the section that states: “An individual or organization must not transmit election advertising or non-election assent voting advertising to the public on general voting day.”
“The investigation has now concluded and subject Kennedy Stewart was found to be in contravention to section 45 of LECFA,” said investigations officer Sara Burnett in an email to a complainant.
The Stewart campaign email, sent at 11:18 a.m., under Subject: 33% to 33%, cited a ResearchCo poll released the previous day that said the race was deadlocked. The message also attacked ABC Vancouver candidate Ken Sim’s platform and urged the recipient to share it with three friends and ask each one to go and vote.
“In 2018, Kennedy won by under a thousand votes, and this time it’s looking like it will be even closer. With only nine hours left until the polls close, we need to get every single voter out for Kennedy,” the email said.
In the end, it wasn’t even close. Sim won the mayoralty with 85,732 votes over Stewart’s 49,593, four years after Stewart edged Sim.
According to an analysis by Andy Yan, director of the Simon Fraser University city program, Stewart won several election day polls in Kitsilano, Grandview Woodland, Mount Pleasant, Strathcona and the West End.
But, in the rest of the city, Sim dominated.
Stewart won’t be facing any further discipline on this complaint, however, because Elections BC decided to exercise discretion. Burnett determined Elections BC would not treat the contravention as an offence.
“In light of what has happened, a warning letter was provided to the subject and serves as a formal written reprimand,” Burnett wrote.
Stewart campaign spokesman Mark Hosak has not responded for comment.