Where oh where is Kevin Vuong? And why is he in hiding?
In the past five days — since issuing a statement on Sept. 25 defending himself against a withdrawn sexual assault charge — he’s been incommunicado, ignoring all media requests for an interview (including from True North).
Despite the mounting pressure for him to resign as Spadina–Fort York MP, he has dug his heels in and vowed to stay on as an independent.
In fact, in the evening of Sept. 25, he issued a terse, rather tone deaf, statement on Twitter, indicating that after reflecting on recent events, he has decided to continue as the independent MP for the downtown Toronto riding.
He apologized, but only for his “lack of disclosure.”
What he was referring to are revelations surrounding a sexual assault allegation from 2019, which only came to light a few days before the Sept. 20 election.
The Crown dropped the charge against Vuong after the victim reportedly contended she didn’t have the “energy” to go through a criminal trial.
After much pressure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s team dissociated themselves from the 31-year-old Naval Reservist, a son of Vietnam refugees. He is also under review by the Canadian Armed Forces for failing to disclose the sexual assault charge.
Vuong has repeatedly denied the sexual assault allegation.
Early in September reports surfaced that Vuong was also the subject of a $1.5-million lawsuit pertaining to his pandemic mask-making business, Take Care Supply.
The party’s own rules stipulate that would-be candidates must not be engaged in litigation or a dispute of any sort which could bring disrepute to the party.
Vuong must be held accountable for not disclosing factors that might have put him out of the running as a candidate. But the Liberal party is as much, if not more, at fault for parachuting a candidate into a riding with no formal nomination process or a clear failure to properly screen their chosen candidate in a riding previously held by the outspoken far-left Adam Vaughan.
By the time Trudeau and the Liberals acted on the allegations and turfed him from the party two days before the election, Vuong could not be removed from the ballot.
He narrowly defeated his NDP opponent, some of that support coming from mail-in ballots.
Since his win, constituents have voiced their anger on social media and several politicians have taken to Twitter to try to convince him to step aside–the most notable being his predecessor Vaughan who acted as Vuong’s mentor and canvassed with him several times throughout the election campaign:
Joe Cressy, who holds the municipal seat, also suggested Vuong do “the honourable thing” and resign:
Vuong ran against the NDP councillor in the 2018 municipal election, placing a distant third.
A petition with nearly 5,000 signatures as of Sept. 30 also calls on Vuong to step down as MP for Spadina Fort-York, claiming having him in office “will further erode society’s trust in elected officials.”
A resident of the riding, who signed the petition, says Vuong’s determination to stay on has “ruffled the feathers of everyone in Spadina Fort-York.”
He said he even sent Vuong a direct e-mail calling on him to step down.
“This guy’s got a lot of gall,” he said.
The resident says he went to his Richmond St. campaign office the day after the election and he was nowhere in sight and his campaign staff had no idea where he was.
The rookie MP is not off to a very good start in public office.