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Ex-committee appointee apologizes for breaking Vancouver code of conduct

The apology from the former co-chair of the Vancouver Renters Advisory Committee to a former city councillor follows a review of the matter by Vancouver's integrity commissioner
Vancouver's inaugural integrity commissioner has published a total of four reports on matters related to alleged conflicts of interest or breaches of codes of conduct | Dan Toulgoet

The former co-chair of the Vancouver Renters Advisory Committee has apologized to an ex-city councillor, four-and-a-half-months after he was censured for breaking the code of conduct.

On Oct. 19, Integrity Commissioner Lisa Southern reprimanded Kit Sauder for social media posts last spring that denigrated Colleen Hardwick and her political party, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver. Southern determined that Sauder used terminology that was “gendered and perpetuated harmful stereotypes when addressing a colleague.”

On March 17, Sauder tweeted his apology to Hardwick, after calling her the “Witch of the Westside” last June during a heated Facebook exchange over the Broadway Plan with Hardwick’s husband, actor Garry Chalk. 

“You put yourself forward to serve our city, and I earnestly believe you attempted to do so in line with your values and principles, and in the best way you know how,” Sauder wrote. “Your personal sacrifice and public service deserves to be acknowledged, and I want to unequivocally apologize to you, Garry and your family.”

Sauder’s term on the advisory committee ended Dec. 31. He said he is a Russian Orthodox Christian and the letter was part of a spiritual accounting during Lent, the period of contemplation and fasting preceding Easter. 

“I wrote a series of letters to apologize to people that I felt I had unfairly done wrong to, so I wrote a handwritten letter to former councillor Hardwick, and then dropped off to her house,” Sauder said. “She sent me an email asking that I confirm that it was from me and, that if I wanted to make further amends, that I could share it publicly. So that's what I did.”

Sauder denied the timing of the apology was related to his consulting career.

“The events themselves happened back in June of last year, so there's been ample time for me to ruminate on this. But I made the apology three weeks ago, and that's when I made it. “

The veteran political strategist worked in the BC Liberal government from 2013 to 2017 under premier Christy Clark and managed the OneBurnaby party’s campaign in the Oct. 15 election.

Instead of seeking a second term as a city councillor, Hardwick challenged Kennedy Stewart for the mayoralty. She finished third in the Oct. 15 civic election. 

“I'm glad it's been dealt with, it would have been nice if it had been dealt with at the time,” Hardwick said. “It would have been nice if it hadn't happened at all.

"He apologized, the integrity commissioner identified it as inappropriate and hopefully this will be a lesson to others.”

Southern’s investigation of Sauder was the third of her four reports published so far. 

In June 2021, Southern cleared Stewart of conflict of interest after he used the mayor’s office to criticize NPA board members for alleged ties to the alt-right. 

In June of last year, Southern found Stewart broke the code of conduct for tweets that falsely accused Hardwick of contravening the city’s 2030 Winter Olympics bid exploration agreement with First Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

More recently, on Feb. 17, Southern dismissed a conflict of interest complaint against Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung. 

Southern agreed it was rational for someone to question Kirby-Yung’s participation, given that her husband Terry Yung chairs the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden board. 

“A perception of a conflict of interest arises based on their familial relationship. However, relationship alone does not determine if there is a conflict of interest under the code of conduct,” Southern ruled.

In 2022, Southern’s law firm billed taxpayers $178,327.