Police looking at new Calgary MP after video appears to show flyer swap on doorstep

·3 min read

OTTAWA — Calgary police are investigating a newly elected Liberal member of Parliament after he was captured on a doorbell camera appearing to remove his opponent's campaign flyer.

George Chahal, a former city councillor, won the only non-Conservative seat in Calgary, edging out Tory Jag Sahota in the riding of Calgary Skyview.

The doorbell video, posted to social media, appears to show Chahal removing Sahota's flyer in exchange for his own at a home on the eve of Monday's federal election.

Calgary police said Friday they had received a report related to the alleged pamphlet removal. It has been directed to their anti-corruption unit, which handles investigations involving public officials.

"We are in the very early stages of the investigation and at this point we have not yet determined if the investigation will remain with CPS or be transitioned to another federal body, such as Elections Canada," the police service said in a statement.

Chahal's campaign manager, Randall Zalazar, said neither Chahal nor the campaign has been contacted by the Calgary police.

Elections Canada noted Friday that it does not deal with complaints involving violations of the Canada Elections Act. That is the responsibility of the commissioner of elections, Yves Cote, the independent officer responsible for ensuring that the act is complied with and enforced.

A spokesperson said the commissioner's office does not generally confirm whether it has received a complaint or has initiated an investigation, due to confidentiality requirements in the act.

"What I can tell you is that the act contains a prohibition on 'impairing or preventing the transmission of election advertising' — which would include, but is not limited to, defacing or removing election signs or other election advertising material," said Veronique Aupry.

"Historically, matters related to defacing or removing election signs or other advertisements has been one of the issues around which we receive the most complaints during an election period."

The commissioner received 97 such complaints during the 2019 election and 129 during the 2015 campaign.

Whenever Cote determines determines that "there is a need for formal compliance or enforcement measures to be taken," Aupry said, those outcomes are publicly disclosed on the commissioner's website.

The Liberal party referred all requests for comment on Chahal to Zalazar, who re-issued his original statement on the incident.

"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," Zalazar said.

"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."

However, Sahota's campaign has said it was Chahal's flyers that contained incorrect addresses for polling stations.

Elections Canada said Friday it was not aware of receiving an alert from Chahal's campaign about incorrect information on Sahota pamphlets. But the agency said such issues would have to be raised with the elections commissioner in any event.

As the lone Liberal elected in Calgary and one of just two elected in all of Alberta, Chahal was widely expected to be a shoo-in for a cabinet post in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new government.

However, the prospect of an investigation — and the very public manner in which Chahal was observed seeming to remove his rival's campaign pamphlet — may well put the kibosh on his cabinet ambitions, at least for now.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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