Hamilton PC hopeful takes party to court with allegations of voter fraud

A Hamilton PC candidate who claims he lost the nomination because of voter fraud ballot box stuffing isn't letting the issue drop. Now he's asking an Ontario court to review it.

Vikram Singh alleges the meeting was fixed by party officials in favour of the eventual winner

Vikram Singh (vsingh.ca)

A Hamilton PC candidate who claims he lost a riding nomination because of voter fraud and ballot box stuffing coordinated by party officials isn't letting the issue drop.

This decision was wrongful and had the result of avoiding scrutiny of irregularities and wrongful conduct.- Vikram Singh in the court filing

Now he's asking an Ontario court to review it and consider declaring him the candidate.

Vikram Singh, a Hamilton lawyer who was a contender for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas candidacy, filed a notice of application for a judicial review Tuesday.

The notice — which names the party, leader Patrick Brown, president Rick Dykstra, executive director Bob Stanley and staffer Logan Bugeja — asks for an "urgent hearing" into the nomination results, and for them to be overturned, along with a declaration the nomination process was carried out in "bad faith."

He alleges the Hamilton nomination was fixed by senior party officials and it was predetermined that eventual winner Ben Levitt would win.

He wants the court to either declare him the winner or call for a new nomination meeting.

The court filing comes after Brown wiped away appeals — including Singh's — in Hamilton, Ottawa West-Nepean and Newmarket-Aurora on June 3 by certifying all 64 candidates who had won local races so far. Singh's application asks for the court to quash Brown's decision.

"This decision was wrongful and had the result of avoiding scrutiny of irregularities and wrongful conduct," Singh said in his filing.

Ben Levitt, 25, is Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas's new provincial PC candidate. Two of his challengers filed appeals alleging ballot box stuffing and voter fraud. (Adam Lawson)

"I am challenging what occurred at the nomination meeting, the party leader's involvement and his decision to purport to terminate my appeal."

Replacing one appellant with another is not productive. There could be endless appeals.- Rick Dykstra, Ontario PC party president

The allegations and statements in Singh's application have not been proven in court.

The filing says Singh won the combined vote of seven regular voting tables at the May 7 nomination meeting. But party insiders staffed the credentials table, where voters were sent over a misspelled name or incorrect address, for example. Votes at that table resulted in Levitt, 25, being declared winner.

The party failed to substantiate the ballots at the credentials desk, says Singh's appeal, despite "repeated requests." Workers also would have had to validate identification and addresses at a rate of one every 26 seconds.

Singh asked the party to review the nomination — to no avail. Now he wants a reconsideration of the nomination result, the notice says.

He wasn't the only candidate to contest the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas result.

Jeff Peller appealed the nomination too, calling the meeting "the biggest undemocratic shit show I've ever witnessed." 

'There could be endless appeals'

In an email, Dykstra said he couldn't comment specifically on the Singh matter because it's before the courts. But he said Brown has "nothing but respect" for everyone who puts their name forward.

Brown's June 3 decision wasn't going to satisfy everyone, he said. But "replacing one appellant with another is not productive. There could be endless appeals.

"Rather than constantly looking in the rear view mirror, we decided to simply move forward and get on with choosing the rest of our candidates using the new processes."

The party is changing how to handle nomination meetings, Dykstra said. PricewaterhouseCoopers will monitor each nomination meeting going forward, and the party's executive will appoint a neutral observer. It is also revising the appeals panel.

Singh's application will be heard in Hamilton superior court on June 20.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC