Calgary

Calgary police investigate Liberal MP-elect George Chahal

An investigation has been launched into an incident involving newly elected Liberal MP George Chahal, Calgary police confirm. The former city councillor was captured on camera removing his opponent's campaign material from a porch and replacing it with a flyer of his own. 

Former Calgary city councillor captured on camera removing opponent's campaign material from porch

Newly elected Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal was caught on a home security camera removing a campaign flyer for his opponent, Jag Sahota, the night before election day in the community of Temple. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett)

An investigation has been launched into an incident involving Liberal MP-elect George Chahal, Calgary police confirm. 

Chahal, formerly a city councillor, ran for the Liberals in the riding of Calgary Skyview and captured the sole non-Conservative seat in the city from incumbent Jag Sahota on Monday. 

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

A Calgary police spokesperson confirmed that a complaint was received.

"The report has been directed to our Anti-Corruption Unit that handles investigations of a sensitive nature or involving a public official," read a statement from the spokesperson. 

"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 investigative body, such as Elections Canada."

Chahal's campaign said they were not aware of the investigation. 

"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," said campaign manager Randall Zalazar in an email. 

Sitting member of police commission

Chahal is also a sitting member of the Calgary Police Commission, the civilian oversight board, serving as one of the council representatives.

The commission said Chahal requested he be excused from his responsibilities for the duration of the campaign. 

"The commission has just become aware that there is an investigation into [Coun.] Chahal's alleged conduct during the campaign and will need to consider any steps to be taken," Heather Spicer, executive director and legal counsel for the commission, said in an email.

Zalazar said Chahal will remain a councillor and a commissioner until he is sworn in as a member of Parliament.

"He has not participated in the work of the Calgary Police Commission since the last public meeting [on] June 29, 2021, and has been excused from its work since then," he said.

Campaigns allege flyers had incorrect info

The Chahal campaign has said the brochure was taken because it contained the wrong polling location.

In a written statement sent to CBC News earlier this week, Zalazar said: "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.

WATCH | Video shows Chahal removing flyer from Calgary home: 

Calgary Liberal MP caught on video removing rival flyer

2 months ago
0:30
The night before the federal election, Glenn Pennett says he was shocked to see Liberal candidate George Chahal approach his house in the Calgary Skyview riding and remove an opponent's campaign flyer before replacing it with one of his own. 0:30

"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."

But the Sahota campaign, as well as the homeowner who captured the footage, said that wasn't the case. 

Homeowner Glenn Pennett said it was Chahal's flyer that had the incorrect information. 

CBC News contacted both Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections on Wednesday to get clarification around the rules if a candidate removes an opponent's campaign materials and to confirm whether incorrectly labelled materials had been reported by Chahal's campaign.

Penalties could include fine, jail time

Elections Canada responded that if there was a contravention of the Canada Elections Act, it would be up to the Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate and decide.

The office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections says it won't confirm if it has received a complaint or started an investigation.

It says 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.

Cabinet contender

Lori Williams, a professor of political science at Calgary's Mount Royal University, said the investigation is a big hit for an MP that was likely to be tapped for cabinet as one of only two Liberals elected in Alberta. 

"When you know there are questions around the judgment of an MP-elect before cabinet selections have been made, it's much less likely that they'll be chosen for cabinet unless the investigation shows there's nothing to worry about, no charges will be laid, no offence being considered," she said. 

"Unless that sort of information comes up in time for the cabinet picks, this is likely to disqualify George Chahal from membership in the cabinet."

With files from Dan McGarvey and Bryan Labby

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