Seven current and former directors of the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association are suing Mayor Kennedy Stewart and City of Vancouver for defamation.
In a lawsuit filed Feb. 4 in B.C. Supreme Court, David Mawhinney, Christopher Wilson, David Pasin, Phyllis Tang, Angelo Isidorou, Federico Fuoco and Wes Mussio say Stewart’s Jan. 28-published statement on city hall letterhead was false, defamatory and for political gain.
“NPA leaders have so far failed to stop hate spreading within their party,” said Stewart under the headline Statement from Mayor Stewart on extremism within Board of Non-Partisan Association. “These extreme individuals will choose who stands as candidates for the NPA in the next election, their election platform, and from whom they accept donations.”
The lawsuit alleges that Stewart, who is already campaigning for his 2022 re-election, “used his power and resources as the Mayor of the City of Vancouver to publish the highly defamatory press release against his main opponent, the NPA. The attack is false and partisan with the deliberate attempt to attack the character of each and all NPA board members for political gain.”
The lawsuit said Stewart’s suggestions of extremism within the NPA board and support for hate groups are knowingly false statements.
“There is no extremism in the NPA board or in the NPA itself,” said the statement of claim. “The suggestion of support for hate groups is a knowingly false statement for political gain and at no time is true in any way. No NPA board member or the NPA itself supports hate groups or belongs to a hate group.”
The statement of claim has not been tested in court and Stewart has not filed a reply.
The Stewart statement was sparked by a story in The Tyee based on a four-year-old photo of Isidorou wearing a MAGA hat and making a Donald Trump-inspired OK sign outside the opening of Vancouver’s Trump Tower.
The hand signal has since been co-opted by white supremacists. Isidorou has denied any support for that ideology. He quit the NPA board last week to quell calls from the NPA elected caucus for an emergency annual general meeting.
In a Jan. 29 interview on CKNW radio, Isidorou, who writes for the Post Millennial website, threatened a defamation lawsuit against The Tyee to restore his character. “I’m not exactly Hitler’s wet dream, I’m Greek and part-Middle Eastern,” he said. “I’m not exactly bullish on my survival in what I’m being pushed to believe that I’m for.”
Isidorou said in 2017 he was an “immature 20-year-old being an idiot,” mimicking Trump.
The “NPA seven” lawsuit was filed by Mussio Goodman, the law firm owned by NPA director Mussio, the Nanaimo Clippers owner who has spent much of the winter living in South Florida.
Stewart won the 2018 mayoral election by just 957 votes over the NPA’s Ken Sim. The NPA elected five candidates to the 11 member council, the most of any party.
Coun. Rebecca Bligh left the caucus to sit as an independent in late 2019 after News1130 errantly reported that Ray Goldenchild, a new member of the NPA board, attended a meeting against the sexual orientation and gender identity school curriculum.
It was confirmed after Bligh quit that Goldenchild did not attend the meeting, and he expressed his support publicly for the SOGI program.
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