Hamilton

Vikram Singh drops his lawsuit against PC party over Hamilton nomination

A Dundas lawyer who has fought the Ontario PC party in court over what he says was a rigged nomination process has dropped his lawsuit.

Police investigation continues, but Singh says he accepts party can choose candidate it wants

Patrick Brown cuts a cake alongside Vikram Singh at a fundraising dinner held by Singh's family on Dec. 28, 2016. Months later, they were in court. (Patrick Brown/Twitter)

A Dundas lawyer who has fought the Ontario PC party in court over what he says was a rigged nomination process has dropped his lawsuit.

In a joint statement with the party, Vikram Singh says he accepts that party leader Patrick Brown can choose whatever candidate he wants.

"I now accept that PC party officials, staff and volunteers were dedicated to achieving the fairest result for the Hamilton community, and can no longer maintain that there was any untoward behaviour on their part," Singh said.

"Furthermore, I acknowledge that the PC party's nomination rules and the Election Act (Ontario), when read together, give the leader of the PC party the authority to identify the candidates who may run under the PC party banner in a provincial election."

The case is still being investigated by Hamilton Police Service and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

But dropping the suit ends an expensive months-long journey for Singh, who was vying for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas provincial PC nomination.

Singh, 31, says he had Brown's blessing to run for the nomination. But in May, he alleged, party officials intervened at the nomination meeting by stuffing ballot boxes and turning away voters, causing him to lose and Ben Levitt to win.

Singh asked the party to review the nomination. But in June, Brown certified more than 60 selected candidates, including Levitt. Singh and another failed candidate, Jeff Peller, applied for a judicial review.

In an affidavit, party president Rick Dykstra said Singh "inspired mistrust" and didn't fit the right demographic to win the election. Dykstra also said Brown can choose whatever candidate he wants regardless of the nomination process.

The party also worried about public perception if the Singh family's decades-old link the militant Sikh group Babbar Khalsa resurfaced.

Peller dropped his request for a judicial review in the fall. Singh's case, meanwhile, included a secretly-recorded phone conversation between himself and party brass. Earlier this week, a panel of appeal court judges ruled against the conversation being used as evidence.

It's not immediately clear if Singh will still owe the party about $180,000 in legal fees from that battle.

In the statement, Brown said he has "full confidence in our party officials and our process," and "am satisfied with our outcome in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas."

In the fall, Hamilton police used a search warrant to obtain two cardboard boxes — one with ballots, one with credentials forms — from the May 7 nomination meeting for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas (HWAD).

Police also examined a large volume of emails and two USB drives containing digital versions of those emails.

The party says it voluntarily handed over the materials to investigators at its lawyer's Bay Street office in Toronto on Oct. 27.

Ontario's Ministry of Attorney General has asked the federal prosecution office to handle the case, to avoid any appearance of political interference in any legal actions taken.

PC nomination battles brought friction in several ridings last year, including Flamborough-Glanbrook. Retired Conservative senator Marjory LeBreton also urged leader Patrick Brown to "do the right thing" when it comes to handling nominations.

Last year, Brown hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee nominations.

"I welcome the continued involvement of all 200,000 members of our party," he said Wednesday.

About the Author

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