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Push for Toronto MP Kevin Vuong to resign continues, but election watchdog won’t step in


The federal agency tasked with enforcing Canada’s elections rules says it won’t step in to resolve complaints about a Toronto MP who was elected days after being dropped from the Liberal Party—but who still appeared as a Liberal on signs and on the paper ballots.

But that hasn’t stopped a push to get Kevin Vuong to resign from his seat in the downtown riding of Fort York-Spadina, with some voters calling for him to run in a byelection to settle concerns he benefited from votes tied to the Liberal Party.

“It’s clear that Mr. Vuong should be resigning,” said Aris Daghighian, a lawyer in the riding who filed a complaint with Canada’s Election Commissioner, which enforces Canada’s election laws.

“This sends the wrong message from a values perspective and sets a bad precedent.”

In an email to Daghighian, the commissioner’s office said they had received “several” similar complaints based on the news coverage around Vuong’s sexual assault charge that had been withdrawn and an ongoing lawsuit among partners in a mask business. Neither incident was disclosed to the Liberal Party before Vuong was nominated.

“We are aware that four days before the election, media articles noted that the [Liberal Party of Canada] suggested that Kevin Vuong “pause” his campaign. It was later announced that were he to win the election, he would not be permitted to sit as part of the Liberal caucus,” the e-mail said.

“However, regardless of those circumstances, Kevin Vuong remained the confirmed LPC candidate for the electoral district of Spadina-Fort York. Given his status as the confirmed LPC candidate, he was entitled to campaign under the LPC banner until the end of the election period and his name appeared on the ballot as the confirmed LPC candidate,” the e-mail said.

Daghighian said there should be a way to recall the candidate mid-election.

“There doesn’t seem to be a revocation mechanism built into the law. There’s a gap. And there are exceptional circumstances like this one where that mechanism is needed and necessary. I think it would be in the party’s interest and in the interests of citizens and voters,” he said.

Creating the ability to recall candidates after the nomination deadline would be possible, but impractical, said Pauline Beange, with the University of Toronto’s faculty of political science.

“Let’s say there had been a clause that covered this. It’s still a matter of significant technical difficulty because Elections Canada would have to withdraw all the ballots and reissue new ones. And if even a handful were left outstanding that would cause massive confusion,” Beange said.

Fundamentally, voters in Canada elect members of parliament, not parties, she said, and Vuong as the person who received the most votes is legally entitled to his seat.

“The voters are stuck… the voters live with their elected member but there is always an option that they can throw (him) out at the next election,” she said.

Vuong didn’t return messages from CTV News Toronto. At Vuong’s listed office address there was only a sign for the former Liberal MP Adam Vaughan.

Vuong’s statement in September saying that he would work hard to earn voters’ trust has been taken down from his public Twitter account. In public posts since, there has been a stream of comments in reply calling for his resignation.

One voter, Ben Brooks, told CTV News Toronto in an interview that he wanted to talk about policies and issues, but first felt the riding needs a politician with integrity.

“The thing with integrity to do would be to run a byelection and let the people decide,” he said. Top Stories

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