Voter, opponent shocked to see Calgary Liberal MP-elect replace election flyer on security video

·4 min read
This campaign card left at Glenn Pennett’s house by the George Chahal campaign included voting instructions for a school 18 kilometres away from his home in Temple, which he says is not the right location for residents there. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett - image credit)
This campaign card left at Glenn Pennett’s house by the George Chahal campaign included voting instructions for a school 18 kilometres away from his home in Temple, which he says is not the right location for residents there. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett - image credit)

The night before the federal election, Glenn Pennett says he was shocked to see Liberal candidate George Chahal approach his house in the Calgary Skyview riding and remove an opponent's campaign flyer before replacing it with one of his own.

Pennett has a doorbell security camera that captured the moment late on Sunday night. He posted the footage to Facebook, which has now received thousands of views.

Chahal won the riding Monday night, ousting Conservative incumbent Jag Sahota.

The video shows Chahal walk up to Pennett's front door in the northeast neighbourhood of Temple before removing a flyer put there by volunteers for Sahota, which included instructions on how and where to vote for her.

Chahal's campaign says he removed the flyer because it contained the wrong polling address, but Pennett and Sahota say that wasn't the case.

Pennett says the address on the flyer Chahal left was incorrect, listing the Saint Clare Elementary School in Coventry Hills as the polling location, in a different part of the riding 18 kilometres away.

Pennett's polling location was St. Thomas More School in his own community of Temple.

"We had our voting cards from Elections Canada and it was the same address on Sahota's flyer," said Pennett. "But he took it away."

'He should be charged'

Pennett says even if it was the wrong address, Chahal shouldn't be removing a political opponent's campaign materials from people's homes without permission.

"He should be charged because he's destroying somebody else's papers," said Pennett. "If he's going to be dishonest, he should resign."

Sahota says she was "disappointed and shocked" to watch the video of Chahal removing her flyer, which was taped to Pennett's home by the front door.

She says she now wonders whether other homes in the area had campaign leaflets removed.

"In the video, he makes no effort to even look at the address to see what it is. It's 10:28 p.m. and it's dark. He just grabs the paper, folds it, replaces it with his own and walks away," said Sahota.

"I have done my due diligence to confirm it was the right polling location and he had no consent from me to remove it," she said.

Sahota says she wants an investigation into what happened.

"You put these flyers at people's doors hoping they will see your name and go to the polling station and vote for you," she said. "We're trying to connect with potential voters and he's taking that information away from them, so there should be legal action."

Chahal removed flyer due to 'incorrect polling location,' campaign says

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party of Canada referred CBC News to Chahal's campaign manager's statement when asked for a comment.

In a written statement sent to CBC News, Chahal's campaign manager Randall Zalazar said: "While dropping off polling info flyers prior to polls opening on election day, George removed a piece of campaign literature that identified an incorrect polling location for the person residing at the address.

"All through election day, campaign volunteers found incorrectly labelled materials across the eastern side of the riding. Our campaign contacted Elections Canada and advised them of the issue."

Submitted by Glenn Pennett
Submitted by Glenn Pennett

CBC News contacted both Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections to get clarification around the rules if a candidate removes an opponent's campaign materials and to confirm that incorrectly labelled materials had been reported by Chahal's campaign.

Elections Canada responded that if there was a contravention of the Canada Elections Act, it would be up to the Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate and decide.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections responded to CBC News saying it won't confirm if it's received a complaint or has started an investigation, but does say the Canada Elections Act contains a section on impairing or preventing the transmission of election advertising that includes defacing or removing election signs or other election advertisements.

The penalties set out in the act, if charges were laid by the commissioner, include a of fine of up to $5,000 and the possibility of up to six months in prison.

The commissioner can also use informal means to resolve a complaint, like a caution or information letter.

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