A candidate running for city council in northeast Calgary's Ward 5 says one of his competitors should tell voters about his past legal problems.
George Chahal issued a statement early Friday, saying elected officials must be transparent, accessible and accountable.
He says fellow candidate Aryan Sadat has had numerous past run-ins with the law.
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CBC News has confirmed those run-ins include a criminal conviction for a drug possession charge in 2006. Court records indicate Sadat entered a guilty plea and was fined $600.
In 2010, Sadat was also fined $115 after pleading guilty to public intoxication.
Candidate changed his name
Sadat legally changed his name from Mujtaba Sadat to his current name, Aryan Sadat in 2015.
Earlier this year, Sadat was granted a pardon for the drug possession charge, so he technically no longer has a criminal record.
He has also faced nearly five dozen other charges between 2003 and 2010. However, all of those other charges were either withdrawn, stayed or dismissed in court.
Chahal said in his statement that candidates pursuing public office must be transparent and that Sadat should explain to voters what happened.
"Mr. Sadat needs to provide full disclosure of his prior criminal charges," said Chahal. "These were not isolated incidents and the charges varied and were very serious."
Given that advance polls are now open, Chahal said that "it is in the public interest for Mr. Sadat to clarify and respond."
In a statement released Friday responding to the revelations, Sadat says a past incident in his life shaped his views about drugs, making him a staunch advocate for increased police resources.
"In 2004, when I was a student, I was charged with the simple possession of a narcotic. I sincerely regret that mistake and in turn learnt a lot from it," he said.
"I received a pardon for the conviction that CBC have alluded to based on my outstanding personal conduct over the past decade."
As for the several dozen other charges that did not result in convictions, Sadat said in his statement they were all the result of "mistaken identity and false information."
Sadat says his opponent is just trying to create a distraction.
"Like many current City Councillors, Mr. Chahal has supported dramatically increasing spending, to be funded by large personal and business tax hikes. He knows that if this campaign is about real issues that really matter to Ward 5 voters — then he will not win," he said.
At an all-candidates' forum last week at the Genesis Centre, CBC News sought comment from Sadat on the matters, but the candidate ran from the building without uttering a word.
Sadat disputes that, saying he left when the forum ended and did not know CBC News was still on site.
During the forum, Sadat — who now works as a student-at-law at a northeast Calgary law firm — vowed that if elected, he would help cut the crime rate in Ward 5.
"There's a lot of illegal activity happening in Ward 5 and I assure you that I will stop that," said Sadat. "I will be a strong voice on that and I will fight hard to make that happen."
Convictions do not disqualify candidates
Although he has been convicted of a crime in the past, there is nothing under the provincial law governing local elections in Alberta that prevents Sadat from running for city council.
Chris Bourdeau, a spokesperson with the department of municipal affairs, said there are some restrictions in the Local Authorities Election Act.
Those restrictions include any past convictions relating to election legislation and anything involving municipal corruption or the purchasing of a public office.
"If any Albertan has been convicted of a criminal offence and has served more than five years [in prison], that would also disqualify them," said Bourdeau.
The other candidates running for the Ward 5 council seat are:
- Sarbdeep Baidwan
- Tudor Dinca
- Hirde Jassal
- Balraj (Raj) Nijjar
Voting day is Oct. 16.
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