Vuong should 'examine his conscience' and not sit as MP, Ontario Liberal leader says
TORONTO -- Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca is calling on MP-elect Kevin Vuong to "examine his conscience" and not to take his seat in House of Commons despite being elected to represent Spadina-Fort York.
Vuong, a former Toronto Liberal candidate was ousted from the party just days before the election after a dropped sexual assault charge was brought to light, is projected to have won his riding late Monday night.
Vuong was asked by the Liberal Party to pause his campaign on Friday after the Toronto Star reported he had been charged with sexual assault in 2019.
The charge was later withdrawn.
The following day, the Liberal party released a statement saying that Vuong would not be running under their banner and if he is elected, he will not be a member of caucus.
Del Duca, who campaigned with Vuong days before the allegations surfaced, suggested it would be irresponsible for Vuong to take the seat, even as an independent member of Parliament.
"I don't think Kevin can responsibly serve in the capacity as an MP for that community, given the circumstances of the allegation, so I do hope that he does the right thing," Del Duca told CTV News Toronto.
While the Liberal party won the Spadina-Fort York riding by a 35-point margin during the 2019 federal election, the lead shrank to less than three points under Voung on Monday night as voters switched to the NDP.
Del Duca suggested the outcome could have been driven by advance polls or mail in ballots, and believes voters may have made a decision based on a partial picture.
"Kevin came forward as a candidate running under a particular banner, he wasn't able to complete the campaign under that banner. I suspect there were a number of people who voted in Spadina fort-York who voted prior to the allegations becoming public," Del Duca told CTVNews Toronto.
"I think Kevin needs to reflect really carefully, I think he needs to examine his own conscience and realize that the people of Spadina-Fort York do need to have a representative who is beyond reproach."
Del Duca is also going one step further by shutting Vuong out of the provincial Liberal party, regardless of the outcome of the charges.
"Kevin would not have a place within the Ontario Liberal Party," Del Duca said curtly. "That's unequivocal even if he's cleared."
When asked to explain, Del Duca said candidates who are subjected to a vetting process are asked to be "completely forthcoming" about personal issues that could surface during an election campaign, and Vuong opted not to share information with the party.
"It just seems to me that that was not necessarily how Kevin went about doing his business with this federal election campaign."
With files from CTV News Toronto's Katherine DeClerq