OTTAWA — Embattled Toronto MP Kevin Vuong, who was ditched by the Liberals days before the federal election after failing to disclose a withdrawn sexual-assault charge, has apologized to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Vuong also apologized to his supporters "for embarrassing them," as well as his former Liberal colleagues.
In his first interview since the Sept. 20 election, Vuong said he was "naive" and "too eager" to become an MP, and regrets the decision not to tell the party about the charge while being vetted as a candidate.
Despite being disavowed as the Liberal candidate in Spadina-Fort York days before the vote, he was elected to Parliament nonetheless and is set to take his seat as an Independent MP next week.
In an interview broadcast on the Toronto radio show Moore in the Morning on Friday, the MP said: "I erred in judgment and I made the wrong decision and I let people down."
Vuong, a former naval reservist and businessman, declined during the interview to discuss the sexual assault allegation, saying he was concentrating on being a good member of Parliament for his constituents.
The charge was laid in 2019 and later dropped.
Asked if he had been advised not to disclose it before becoming a candidate, Vuong did not directly answer, saying "people get all different types of advice."
"At the end of the day, I own the decision to not disclose. And I regret that decision," he said.
"I made the wrong call. I made a tremendous error in judgment in not disclosing. It’s why I am now an Independent member of Parliament," he added.
The MP, who has faced harsh criticism on social media, said that since the election his partner has been harassed in the street while walking her dog. But he denied he has been "in hiding."
The chair of Spadina-Fort York's Liberal riding association, which funded much of Vuong's campaign, said on Friday an apology was not enough and renewed calls for him to resign.
"The time to exercise good judgment is before, not during or after holding public office. Parliament is not a classroom to learn these lessons," said Julia Metus in a Facebook post.
"Had the details that Mr. Vuong shared in his interview today been shared with the party, he would not have been chosen as the Liberal candidate in our riding."
Vuong told the radio host, John Moore, that he only found out the Liberals were dropping him as a candidate through the media.
"I found out when everyone else did. I think it was shortly followed by an email," he said.
Vuong, who has taken the oath as an MP, said he has worked on around 600 constituency files, including on immigration, since the election.
Adam Vaughan, the former Liberal MP for the riding, said that was a small proportion of the cases his office usually dealt with, especially after an election.
Vaughan said his successor was "using his public office to rehabilitate his reputation."
Metus added: "How many youth have learned by his example that misrepresenting oneself can get you ahead in life? An apology is not restitution without action and an apology itself cannot address these issues; only a resignation can accomplish this."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021.
Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press