Victoria council to receive code of conduct training, no sanctions for Kim

Victoria council to receive code of conduct training, no sanctions for Kim
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All Victoria councillors will undergo training on its code of conduct following an investigation into Coun. Susan Kim signing a letter and liking a tweet.

In November, Kim was the focus of backlash after attention was drawn to the letter and tweet.

The letter called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, and included a line that called out Jagmeet Singh for repeating “the unverified accusation that Palestinians were guilty of sexual violence,” which cast doubt on the testimonies of people on Oct. 7 that said people were sexually assaulted during Hamas’ attack on a music festival where hostages were taken.

Kim also liked a tweet that was published on Oct. 7 that said “Power to every Palestinian fighting for their freedom, and glory to every martyr who dies fighting. For every martyr that falls, a new one will rise.”

A few days after public backlash, Kim deleted her X account.

A member of the public submitted a code of conduct complaint to Mayor Marianne Alto, who then submitted it as an official complaint under the bylaw.

Marisa Cruickshank conducted the investigation into the complaint and has since been appointed the official investigator for code of conduct complaints, and found that while Kim did contravene the bylaw, it was inadvertent and therefore recommended no sanctions.

However, Cruickshank recommended that all councillors undergo training on the code of conduct to prevent future inadvertent breaches.

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Council discussed Cruikshank’s report on Thursday and decided to accept her recommendations of no sanctions, but training for all councillors. Kim recused herself from chambers with her lawyer, Noah Ross, staying behind to speak on her behalf.

“I have difficulty believing that councillor Kim was not aware that the tweet she liked came about the same day as the attack on Israel from Hamas,” said Coun. Stephen Hammond.

Hammond attempted to amend the motion to require that Kim write a letter of apology but noted he would also accept if she chose to re-submit her second letter of apology which was issued on Nov. 23.

This amendment was defeated 6-2, with Alto noting that she felt the investigator did a thorough job and wanted to follow her recommendations.

Coun. Chris Coleman noted that he found it “becomes problematic because it’s asking us to put in place something that has already occurred and seems to be acceptable.”

Hammond and Coun. Marg Gardiner were the only two who voted in favour, and Kim was absent from the discussion as she had recused herself.

The final vote on the motion to accept the report and for training to be provided for all councillors on the code of conduct bylaw was passed 7-1 with Gardiner opposed.

Ross called the vote a win for free speech and says her client is ready for this issue to be over.

“I think that the action that Ms. Kim took, as council found, is within acceptable political speech,” said Ross.

“Just because speech like Ms. Kim’s speech was controversial, it doesn’t mean it should warrant sanction and I think that’d be a troubling road to go down.”

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