Liberal MP-elect George Chahal flyer controversy sees new investigation and request to overturn results

·3 min read
Newly elected Calgary-Skyview MP George Chahal caught on a security camera removing his opponent, Jag Sahota’s, campaign flyer the night before Election Day in the community of Temple. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett - image credit)
Newly elected Calgary-Skyview MP George Chahal caught on a security camera removing his opponent, Jag Sahota’s, campaign flyer the night before Election Day in the community of Temple. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett - image credit)

Lawyers for the Conservative incumbent in Calgary Skyview who lost her seat to Liberal George Chahal will ask a Calgary judge to quash the federal election results in that riding because of the controversy surrounding campaign flyers, CBC News has learned.

The investigation has been taken over by the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE).

Calgary police are not investigating any criminal wrongdoing but confirm they are in a supportive role for the CCE.

Chahal, a former city councillor, won the sole non-Conservative seat in the city that had previously been held by incumbent Jag Sahota.

The day before the election, Chahal was captured on a doorbell camera removing one of Sahota's campaign flyers and replacing it with one of his own.

In response to the video, Chahal's campaign said he took Sahota's flyer because it contained incorrect polling information.

Guardian Law Group
Guardian Law Group

But the flyer left by Chahal and provided to CBC Calgary by homeowner Glenn Pennett, a retired police officer, directs the voter to a polling station 16 kilometres from the one where he said he was required to cast a ballot.

Sahota's lawyer, Kyle Shewchuk, provided CBC News with a copy of the flyer he says is identical to the one taken by Chahal, which includes information about the proper polling station.

Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate

On Tuesday, Shewchuk said that not only will his firm be filing a Court of Queen's Bench application to invalidate the results in Calgary Skyview, his client was contacted by the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE), which told Sahota it is investigating.

The CCE would not confirm its investigation to CBC News "in keeping with the confidentiality provisions of the [Elections] Act."

"The CCE generally does not confirm whether it has received a complaint or has initiated an investigation into a particular issue," said spokesperson Véronique Aupry in a written statement.

"That said, I would point out that these same confidentiality provisions do not extend to individuals outside of our office, including complainants or those who may be the subject of a complaint."

CBC News reached out to Chahal's spokesperson with the developments Monday night but did not receive a response.

The Liberal Party of Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

WATCH | Video shows Liberal candidate at door:

Chahal captured on security camera

Pennett has a doorbell security camera that captured the moment the night before the election. After he posted the video to Facebook, it received thousands of views.

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

The flyer Chahal left directed the voter to St. Clare Elementary School in a different neighbourhood, 16 km from St. Thomas More School, the polling station listed on Sahota's flyer, which Pennett said matched information on the voting card he received from Elections Canada, and was where he cast his ballot.

The Canada Elections Act contains a section on impairing or preventing the transmission of election advertising, which includes defacing or removing election signs or other election advertisements.

If charges were laid by the commissioner, possible penalties set out in the act include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail. The commissioner can also use informal means to resolve a complaint, like a caution or information letter.

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