Calgary MP George Chahal receives $500 fine for removing opponent's flyer
Calgary Skyview Liberal MP George Chahal has been found to have been in breach of the elections act after he received a $500 penalty from the Office of the Commissioner for Canada Elections (OCCE).
An investigation was launched following the removal of a campaign pamphlet of incumbent Conservative Jag Sahota, Chahal’s opponent,from outside a constituent's home.
Doorbell camera footage surfaced showing Chahal taking the flyer from a home in the northeast neighbourhood of Temple on Sept. 19, 2021, and replacing it with one of his own.
The document left behind included incorrect polling station information. The homeowners had a lawn sign supporting Chahal's conservative opponent.
The OCCE said in a report that “George Chahal admitted to OCCE investigators that he removed the other candidate's campaign flyer.”
It went on to say that he was in “violation of subsection 325(1) of the Act, the prohibition against preventing or impairing the transmission of an election advertising message without the consent of a person with authority to authorize its transmission.
Chahal added that he remains "committed to putting the interests of my constituents first, through all my activities and interactions.
He told CTV News that he hopes to move on from the incident.
“I have nothing to hide and I fully cooperated with the folks doing the review of this matter and I acknowledged it immediately,” said Chahal.
RELATIVELY MINOR INCIDENT
One political scientist at Mount Royal University said the fine amount speaks volumes about how this incident was relatively minor.
“Given that the fine could have been up to $5,000 and time in jail this is clearly at the lower end of the spectrum of penalties,” said Lori Williams.
“That being the case I think (it) sends a signal that this is not being seen as a serious threat to democratic integrity.”
Sahota did not accept CTV's interview request, but her lawyer Kyle Shewchuk did say they welcome the fine.
“But this does not resolve the matter,” he said.
“Voters need to know if theft of campaign literature was a widespread activity and whether a different election result would have otherwise occurred.”
Shewchuk said they will continue with a court application hoping to quash the election results.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to tell Calgary-Skyview voters what he is prepared to do about this clear violation from a member of his caucus,” said Shewchuk.
Chahal announced on social media Tuesday morning that he had been penalized and had paid the fine.
Chahal added that he remains "committed to putting the interests of my constituents first, through all my activities and interactions."
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