Hamilton police arrested 2 people in PC nomination investigation, but didn't charge them

Hamilton police arrested two people this year in their investigation into potential PC voter fraud in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster Dundas. But they let them go without charging them.
Patrick Brown was Ontario PC leader during the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas nomination meeting of 2017. Brown has since been elected mayor of Brampton. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Hamilton police arrested two people this year in their investigation into potential PC voter fraud in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster Dundas (HWAD). But they let them go without charging them.

Police confirmed the arrests to CBC News this week, but said since the investigation is ongoing, they would not release any more information.

The investigation has included seizing boxes full of ballots, credentials forms and other election-related material from Ontario PC party headquarters in Toronto.

A Globe and Mail report this week says the investigation also included inspecting digital devices, interviewing nearly 150 witnesses and reviewing more than 1,600 pages of e-mails.

It also says police, in an affidavit filed in court, are concerned releasing more information about the investigation could cause people to be biased against the current government.

The affidavit also says numerous witnesses were uncooperative and tried to control interviews with police, the Globe and Mail reports.

The Ontario NDP, meanwhile, is accusing PC premier Doug Ford of "downplaying and brushing off the serious nature" of the arrests.

"Ontario needs a premier that will take allegations of crime and fraud seriously, including when it happens in his own party," NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said in a statement.

"People voted to end the scandal of the Liberal years — not to go from bad to worse. People deserve a premier who will take this seriously, even if his own party insiders are involved."

The investigation dates back to a May 7, 2017 nomination meeting in Ancaster. Four people — Ben Levitt, Vikram Singh, Jeff Peller and Jobson Easow — were competing for the nomination.

Levitt, a then-25-year-old staffer in MP David Sweet's office, was declared the victor. Singh and Peller asked the party to review the nomination, saying party officials on site committed voter fraud and ballot box stuffing. Patrick Brown, who was then leader of the party, refused.

Singh and Peller both went to court, asking for judicial reviews. Both eventually dropped their challenges, although Singh's lasted substantially longer and came after a court ruling that Singh pay more than $100,000 in party legal costs.

During the Singh challenge, then-Ontario PC president Rick Dykstra said in an affidavit that Singh wouldn't be a good candidate because he inspired mistrust and didn't fit the right demographic. He also said the party could pick whatever candidate it wanted, regardless of who wins at a nomination meeting.

Brown was ousted as leader after sexual misconduct allegations, which he has denied.

When Ford became leader, he set aside the HWAD nomination. In May, Singh applied to run in the new contest and the party rejected him. Levitt handily won the candidacy in a two-person race.

In the June election, NDP candidate Sandy Shaw defeated Levitt and Liberal incumbent Ted McMeekin to become the riding's MPP.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca