Ford accepts candidate resignation after learning about theft of personal data
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, May 17, 2018 3:11PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 17, 2018 7:03PM EDT
A Progressive Conservative candidate has resigned following an announcement made by 407 Express Toll Route saying the personal information of up to 60,000 customers had been stolen over the last year.
Simmer Sandhu, the now former PC candidate for Brampton East, announced his resignation Tuesday evening, saying he was stepping down amid anonymous allegations made pertaining to his work life and nomination campaign. He said the allegations “are totally baseless” and he “absolutely denies” them.
“I will vigorously defend myself and my reputation and I am confident I will be cleared,” he said in a statement.
Sandhu worked for 407 ETR for eight years until February, when he became involved in politics.
Kevin Sack, VP of Marketing and Communications for 407 ETR, could not confirm whether Sandhu was connected to the investigation of the data breach.
“I can’t list for you what access Mr. Sandhu may have had or others may have had. For us, we have turned things over to police and the privacy commissioner.”
407 ETR said the information stolen includes customer names, addresses, and some phone numbers. No credit card or vehicle information was taken. Customers impacted by the breach will receive letters next week.
The Ontario PC party has not confirmed Sandhu’s alleged involvement in the 407 ETR data breach, but a spokesperson did make reference to an investigation when announcing Sudeep Verma as the new candidate for Brampton East Wednesday evening.
“In light of the investigation into Simmer Sandhu, he felt it was necessary to stand down as a candidate and we accepted his resignation,” Melissa Lanstman said in a statement.
Doug Ford was asked about the allegations at a campaign stop Thursday morning. He said he found out and accepted Sandhu’s resignation the night before.
“I took immediate action as soon as I found out and we went forward with a new candidate,” he said.
The Ontario New Democrats wrote a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer Thursday asking them to investigate the “the alleged illegal misuse of personal data by at least 29 candidates running for election for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.”
“The allegations include statements that campaigns may have paid for data and further, that identity theft may have taken place,” the letter says.
“Mr. Ford needs to answer questions. Is that data that was stolen a factor in his leadership race,” Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said at a news conference. “What has Mr. Ford done as the leader of the Conservative Party to follow up when it comes to the data and the breach of data?”
Ontario Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne also addressed the allegations at a news conference.
“It’s clear that the people of Ontario need to know what the vetting process is for candidates and how such a thing could happen.”
The deadline to nominate a candidate for the provincial election is Thursday, May 17.