Calgary MP-elect George Chahal’s seat chances in the Liberal cabinet could be in jeopardy, after it was revealed Friday that police are looking into a video which appears to show him swapping another election candidate’s campaign flyer for his own.
The video, taken by a doorbell camera, was shared on social media earlier this week.
In it, Chahal is seen climbing the steps of the home in the dark, taking an election brochure from the door, folding it and then putting different papers on the front step.
He’s wearing a jersey with “CHAHAL” and the number 21 on the back, and “VoteGeorge” on the front.
Police said on Friday that they’d received a report about the incident the day before and were investigating what happened, though it wasn’t known whether the investigation would stay with police, or be transferred to Elections Canada.
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said this begs the question of whether this was the only incident of Chahal swapping pamphlets, or if it was just the only one caught on camera.
“Had he and his volunteers been doing that all night? Every house that they went to, throwing their material in and taking out Jagdeep Sohota’s?” he said Friday.
“Talk about a rise and fall in the same week.”
“Monday night, George Chahal was an absolute slam dunk to be sitting in the Trudeau cabinet. You’ve got to be thinking the PMO is going: ‘There’s no way we can touch this guy right now.’”
Bratt said there’s a “huge cloud around George Chahal right now,” and that just five days after being elected — and before he’s even been sworn in — the newly elected federal representative for Alberta is also at risk of being kicked out of the Liberal caucus.
“Here you have the star candidate, who hasn’t even been sworn in yet as MP, and now’ who’s future looks incredibly cloudy,” he said. “What does this say about his judgement?”
Chahal’s campaign office said he removed the competing campaign’s pamphlet because it had incorrect information about polling station locations.
“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,” a statement from his office 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.”
Bratt pointed out that not only is that not any campaign’s responsibility — concerns around incorrect voting information should be reported to Elections Canada — but it’s also not up to the candidates themselves to correct the error.
“This isn’t a volunteer. This is the candidate. There’s no separation here. You can’t say, ‘Well it was an over-zealous volunteer,’” he said.
Bratt said he doesn’t know how Chahal will be able to save his reputation amid the scandal.
“This doesn’t look good for the party, and this does not look especially good for George Chahal.”
Police did not say whether any charges would be laid against Chahal.
In an emailed statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Chahal said “neither George or the campaign have been contacted by the Calgary Police Service and we have not been made aware of any ongoing investigation related to this matter.”
The CPS anti-corruption unit is handling the investigation, as is the case with any “sensitive” investigations for high-profile people like politicians and judges.
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