Councillor’s Facebook Post Brings About Lawsuits, Integrity Commissioner Investigation

Integrity Commissioner Says Facebook Post Went Too Far

We’re only a few months into a new term of council, and already one among their members is in hot water.

Despite a recent Rainbow Crosswalk victory at the council table, Ward Two’s Keenan Aylwin has hit a few speed bumps. The rookie councillor is facing a lawsuit and a Code of Conduct violation over recent actions.

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At the centre of all this, a Facebook post; Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard and Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte MP Alex Nuttall have both filed paperwork against Aylwin, over a March 21st Facebook post naming both officials. In the post, Aylwin speaks of white supremacy and neo-nazis in the same breath as the Barrie-Area MPs.

MP Brassard confirms civil litigation is ongoing against Aylwin, but wouldn’t comment further. While a lawsuit was filed by Alex Nuttall, legal paperwork obtained by Barrie 360 shows the civil action was discontinued as of May 10th, but legal representatives for Mr. Nuttall indicate a new notice will be filed as of May 23rd. According to statements of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court, each MP is seeking $100,000 in damages ($50,000 for general damages, $25,000 each for aggravated damages and punitive damages.)

In her ruling, Barrie Integrity Commissioner Suzanne Craig said she is in no way suggesting Aylwin is not permitted to “express his opinions denouncing white supremacy hate rhetoric and anti-immigrant groups. However, this Facebook post crossed the line of responsible conduct for a municipal councillor when the Respondent baselessly suggested that the Complainant has caused harm and is associating with white supremacists”

Councillor Aylwin tells Barrie 360 he will be addressing this on the record soon. “I feel I owe it to City Council and the residents of Ward 2 to speak directly to this issue at the May 27, 2019 General Committee meeting before I make a statement to the media.” Aylwin adds “I have retained experienced legal counsel and I am prepared to defend the other matter in court. My legal counsel will be filing a statement of defence imminently.”

Craig’s final report goes on to suggest not only Aylwin be reprimanded, but that the City of Barrie work towards a new all-encompassing social media policy.