Kennedy Stewart (Canadian politician)

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Kennedy Stewart
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Burnaby South
Assumed office
October 19, 2015
Preceded by Riding established
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Burnaby—Douglas
In office
May 2, 2011 – August 2015
Preceded by Bill Siksay
Succeeded by Riding dissolved
NDP Science Critic
Assumed office
June 19, 2012
Preceded by Hélène LeBlanc
NDP BC Caucus Chair
Assumed office
December 9, 2015
Preceded by Murray Rankin
Personal details
Born (1966-11-08) November 8, 1966 (age 51)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Jeanette Ashe
Residence Vancouver, British Columbia
Alma mater
Profession Academic, Politician

Kennedy Stewart, MP (born November 8, 1966) is a Canadian politician and academic, currently running to be the mayor of Vancouver.[1] He was the Member of Parliament for the riding of Burnaby—Douglas (2011–2015) and is the current Member of Parliament for to the riding of Burnaby South (2015–present), serving in the House of Commons as a member of the New Democratic Party caucus.[2] In May 2018, Stewart announced his pending resignation from Parliament, in order to seek municipal office in Vancouver.[1] On August 2, 2018, Stewart publicly released his letter to the Speaker of House, Geoff Regan, confirming his resignation, effective September 14, 2018.

Early life and career[edit]

Stewart was born in Halifax in 1966 and raised in Wolfville, Nova Scotia,[2] where he earned his bachelor's degree in history from Acadia University.[3]

After moving to Burnaby in 1988, Stewart played bass guitar for the pop music band State of Mind,[4] which won three West Coast Music Awards in 1991.

In 1995, Stewart received his master's degree in political science from Simon Fraser University, and a PhD in government from the London School of Economics in 2003.[5]

As an academic, Stewart published research on citizen participation, democratic reform, and municipal governance.[2] His books include Local Government in Canada.[6]

He is currently on leave from Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy.[7] Stewart’s wife Jeanette Ashe also teaches politics at Douglas College.

Federal politics[edit]

On March 28, 2004, Stewart won the NDP nomination for the federal riding of Vancouver Centre in a close three-way race. Although he lost in the 2004 general election by 4,230 votes, he increased the NDP's vote share in Vancouver Centre by 20 percentage points compared to the 2000 election.

On February 25, 2011, Stewart secured the NDP nomination for the federal riding of Burnaby—Douglas in a first ballot victory.[8] He won the riding in the 2011 general election with 44 percent of the vote and was re-elected with 35 percent of the vote in 2015.

41st Parliament[edit]

In 2012, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair appointed Stewart as official opposition critic for science and technology and as a member of the standing committee on industry, science and technology. In Parliament, he opposed the Conservative government’s elimination of the long-form census and funding cuts for basic scientific research.[9] He tabled legislation (Motion 453) to protect scientific integrity in government departments and end the muzzling of federal scientists.[10]

In 2013, Stewart introduced Bill C-558, The Parliamentary Science Officer Act. Following the elimination of Canada’s National Science Advisor in 2008, the bill aimed to create an independent science watchdog tasked with providing Parliament with sound scientific information and ensuring decisions are informed by the best available evidence.[11] Bill C-558 was endorsed by Evidence for Democracy, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, and the Centre for Science in the Public Interest.[12]

Stewart put forward a proposal (Motion 428) for the House of Commons to begin accepting petitions electronically as a means to engage more Canadians in the democratic process.[13] It further proposed that short debates be triggered in Parliament if an online petition receives a significant number of signatures and is sponsored by at least five MPs. Stewart’s proposal was endorsed by Ed Broadbent, Preston Manning, and a number of civil society groups.[14] Being opposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative cabinet, Motion 428 passed the House of Commons by only two votes (142-140) on January 29, 2014.[15] It was widely viewed as a “surprise win” for the official opposition.[16]

Stewart held public consultations with Burnaby residents on Kinder Morgan’s proposal to build a new export-only, bitumen-based crude oil pipeline through his riding.[17] He became a vocal opponent of the project, citing community concerns over property expropriation, decreasing housing values, increased tanker traffic in the Burrard Inlet, the use of temporary foreign workers, and the lack of benefits for British Columbia.[18] His constituency office helped local residents sign-up to participate in the National Energy Board’s review of the project.[19] In 2013, the Burnaby Newsleader named Stewart their “Newsmaker of the Year” for his community work on the Kinder Morgan pipeline.[18]

Stewart is an advocate for social housing and federal action to address BC’s housing crisis.[20] In 2014, he put forward a BC-specific affordable housing strategy (Motion 547) to recognize housing as a fundamental right, expand public investments in housing co-ops, maintain rent subsidies for low-income families, set targets for reducing and ending homelessness, and study the impact of investor speculation and housing vacancies on real estate prices.[21] His motion was endorsed by the City of Burnaby.[22]

42nd Parliament[edit]

He was re-elected in the new riding of Burnaby South in the 2015 election.

Following the election, Stewart was re-appointed by Tom Mulcair as NDP critic for science.[23]

On December 4, 2015, Parliament launched its new website for accepting electronic petitions from Canadians.[24] Under the new system, initiated by Stewart’s motion that passed before the election, the federal government has to respond within 45 days to online petitions if they are sponsored by one Member of Parliament and receive at least 500 signatures.[25] Stewart sponsored the first official e-petition in Canada on behalf of two local constituents.[26]

On December 9, 2015, Stewart was elected by his caucus colleagues as chair of the NDP’s British Columbia caucus.[27] In a statement, he vowed to support the NDP’s newly elected MPs getting established in Parliament, strengthen engagement with stakeholders and constituents across the province, and hold the new Liberal government accountable for its election promises on affordable housing and pipeline reviews.[27]

2018 contempt of court charge[edit]

On March 23, 2018, Stewart was arrested for civil contempt during a demonstration against the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Other members of the demonstration, including fellow Member of Parliament Elizabeth May, were also arrested concerning the same incident. They were accused of violating a court order requiring those demonstrating to stay five meters back from company work sites, when they allegedly blocked the roadway.[28] On April 9, 2018, Justice Kenneth Affleck of the British Columbia Supreme Court recommended that Stewart and the others arrested should be charged with criminal contempt in relation to the alleged incident.[29][30][31] On April 16, 2018, it was reported that special prosecutors would be overseeing the charges against Stewart and May.[32] On May 14, 2018, Stewart pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court for his actions concerning the protest.[33][34]

Vancouver mayoral candidacy[edit]

Stewart announced on May 10, 2018 that he will be resigning from Parliament in order to run to be the mayor of Vancouver.[1][35] His resignation is effective September 14, 2018.[36] On May 24, 2018, Stewart announced, if elected mayor, he would create a lobbyist registry and new conflict-of-interest rules for City Hall.[37]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Burnaby South
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Kennedy Stewart 16,094 35.07 -8.93 $177,796.68
Liberal Adam Pankratz 15,547 33.88 +22.16 $33,613.38
Conservative Grace Seear 12,441 27.11 -12.51 $83,392.49
Green Wyatt Tessari 1,306 2.85 -0.76 $790.18
Libertarian Liz Jaluague 499 1.09
Total valid votes/Expense limit 45,887 100.00   $207,659.75
Total rejected ballots 275 0.60
Turnout 46,162 60.78
Eligible voters 75,950
New Democratic hold Swing -15.55
Source: Elections Canada[38][39][40]
Canadian federal election, 2011: Burnaby—Douglas
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Kennedy Stewart 20,943 42.99 +5.05
Conservative Ronald Leung 19,932 40.92 +4.67
Liberal Ken Low 5,451 11.19 -8.22
Green Adrianne Merlo 1,754 3.60 -2.37
Libertarian Lewis Clarke Dahlby 420 0.86
Communist George Gidora 155 0.32 -0.11
Marxist–Leninist Brian Sproule 57 0.12
Total valid votes 48,710 100.0  
New Democratic hold Swing +0.19
Canadian federal election, 2004: Vancouver Centre
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Hedy Fry 21,280 40.30 -2.00 $66,619
New Democratic Kennedy Stewart 17,050 32.29 +20.25 $57,675
Conservative Gary Mitchell 10,139 19.20 -18.70 $73,789
Green Robbie Mattu 3,580 6.78 +2.85 $2,440
Libertarian John Clarke 304 0.57 $60
Christian Heritage Joe Pal 243 0.46 $389
Canadian Action Alexander Frei 101 0.19 -1.08 $100
Communist Kimball Cariou 96 0.18 +0.01 $389
Total valid votes 52,793 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 226 0.43 -0.05
Turnout 53,019 61.47 0.97
Liberal hold Swing -11.12
Change for the Conservatives is based on the combined totals of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.


  1. ^ a b c Laanela, Mike. "Kennedy Stewart confirms he will run for mayor of Vancouver as independent". CBC News. 
  2. ^ a b c “Kennedy Stewart bio”. Parliament of Canada Biography.
  3. ^ "Canada Votes 2004: Vancouver Centre". CBC News.
  4. ^ “B.C. NDP MP wants commons to accept online petitions”. Vancouver Sun, February 14, 2013.
  5. ^ "Kennedy Stewart to succeed Siksay for the NDP in Burnaby-Douglas". Burnaby News Leader. February 28, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 
  6. ^ “Local Government in Canada, 8th Edition”
  7. ^ “Kennedy Stewart”. SFU School of Public Policy.
  8. ^ "Kennedy Stewart nominated as the federal NDP candidate in Burnaby-Douglas". Georgia Straight. February 26, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 
  9. ^ "NDP Science Critic". MP Website
  10. ^ "Motion 453". Parliament of Canada website
  11. ^ "Bringing Evidence Back to Palriament". Policy Options, July/August 2015
  12. ^ "Science Community Rallies Behind NDP Proposal for Independent Science Watchdog". Media Release
  13. ^ "Motion 428". Parliament of Canada website
  14. ^ “Preston Manning and Ed Broadbent find common ground”. Vancouver Sun, February 25, 2013.
  15. ^ "Vote #43 on January 29th, 2014", Open Parliament.
  16. ^ "NDP scores surprise win on e-petitions thanks to 8 Tory MPs", CBC News, January 20, 2014.
  17. ^ “72 percent of Burnaby-Douglas opposes Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion”. Burnaby News Leader, January 19, 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Newsmaker of the Year: Kennedy Stewart". Burnaby News Leader. December 26, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2015. 
  19. ^ “MP Kennedy Stewart wants Burnaby to have its say on Kinder Morgan pipeline”. Vancouver Observer, January 24, 2014.
  20. ^ “MP Stewart to Introduced Affordable Housing Strategy”. Burnaby Now, November 25, 2014.
  21. ^ "Motion 547". Parliament of Canada website.
  22. ^ "Council Meeting Minutes". City of Burnaby, April 13, 2015.
  23. ^ “NDP Shadow Cabinet”. NDP Website.
  24. ^ "E-Petitions and Redesigned Committee Websites". Parliament of Canada.
  25. ^ "Parliament Starts Accepting E-Petitions This Week". CBC NEWS, December 2, 2015.
  26. ^ "Burnaby Couple First in Country to File New Online Petition". Burnaby Now, December 4, 2015.
  27. ^ a b “NDP Elected Kennedy Stewart as BC Caucus Chair”. Media Release.
  28. ^ Schmunk, Rhianna. "Pipeline protesters including MPs Elizabeth May, Kennedy Stewart should face criminal charge: judge". CBC News. 
  29. ^ Slepian, Katya. "Elizabeth May, other anti-pipeline protesters should be criminally charged: judge". Surrey Now-Leader. 
  30. ^ Canadian Press. "B.C. Supreme Court judge calls for criminal charges against Elizabeth May and Trans Mountain protesters". Calgary Herald. 
  31. ^ Givetash, Linda. "Pipeline protesters including Green leader should face criminal charges: judge". CTV News. 
  32. ^ Laanela, Mike. "Special prosecutors to handle federal MPs' cases after anti-pipeline protest arrests". CBC News. 
  33. ^ Fraser, Keith. "MP Kennedy Stewart enters guilty plea to charge of criminal contempt for Kinder Morgan protest". Vancouver Sun. 
  34. ^ CBC News. "Kennedy Stewart pleads guilty to criminal contempt for Kinder Morgan protest". CBC News. 
  35. ^ Guly, Christopher. "NDP MP Kennedy Stewart Leaving Federal Scene for Run as Vancouver's Mayor". The Tyee. 
  36. ^ Stewart, Kennedy [@kennedystewart] (August 2, 2018). "As promised, I've submitted my resignation letter. I'll continue my MP duties until Sept 14 when I officially file as a #Vancouver mayoral candidate. It's been a great honour to serve my constituents for the last seven years. #ndp #vanpoli" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  37. ^ Vancouver Courier. "Mayoral candidate promises lobbyist registry, conflict-of-interest rules". Vancouver Courier. 
  38. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Burnaby South, 30 September 2015
  39. ^ Official Voting Results - Burnaby South
  40. ^ "Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates". Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. 

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