After a Liberal candidate in Toronto was revealed to have been charged with sexual assault in 2019, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau evaded questions from reporters on why he is continuing to let him run in the 2021 election.
According to a report by the Toronto Star, Spadina-Fort York Candidate Kevin Vuong denies the allegations and has stated that the charges were later withdrawn. According to the Liberal Party, Vuong’s campaign has been paused but no commitment has been made to fire him.
“How is it that your team failed to learn this until the Toronto Star told you about it and will you let that candidate, Mr Vuong, sit as a Liberal if indeed he wins his seat since it’s too late to change any ballot?” a reporter asked Trudeau.
“We are a party that always takes any allegations or reports of sexual harassment, intimidation or assault. That has been clear from the very beginning. As you also pointed out, we only learnt about these serious investigations yesterday, we are looking into it very carefully and we have asked the candidate to pause the campaign,” said Trudeau.
When pressed further by the report on why the Liberal Party hasn’t told Vuong to step down, Trudeau smirked as his staffers called for the next question.
Opposition parties responded to the Liberal decision by calling for the removal of Vuong.
“This pattern of cover-ups by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party must stop. Once again Canadians are left wondering how they can trust the Liberals,” the Conservative Party said in a statement on the matter.
“Justin Trudeau must do the right thing and immediately fire this candidate and confirm that if elected, this candidate will not sit in the Liberal Caucus.”
The allegations against Vuong come only weeks after Kitchener Centre incumbent candidate Raj Saini reportedly stepped down from his candidacy after reports alleged that he had sexually harassed a female staffer.
Despite stepping down, Saini’s name will remain on the ballot since Elections Canada stated it is too late to have him replaced.
As a result of the withdrawal, Saini could be entitled to receive a $92,900 severance package for the decision.
For years, Trudeau has maintained that he has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment despite the fact that he himself has been accused of groping a female reporter in 2000 while attending a music festival.
Trudeau once said he believed women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault must be supported and believed.
“When women speak up it is our duty to listen to them and believe them,” said Trudeau in 2018.