Spadina Fort York MP Kevin Vuong responds to controversy amid calls for him to step down
Though candidate Kevin Vuong won the race to become MP of downtown Toronto's Spadina-Fort York riding in Monday's federal election, the local politician is now being urged to step down.
Many constituents are expressing regret about voting for Vuong while they were unaware that the candidate was expelled by his party less than two days before polls opened due to a recently-revealed allegation of sexual assault, which the complainant withdrew in 2019 after saying she "didn't have the energy" to further pursue at trial.
The issue has been confusing for residents of the neighbourhood, who wonder how Vuong's name was permitted to stay on the ballot (it was too late to remove it), why his social media bios still listed him as a Liberal Party candidate as of Tuesday (they've since been updated) and what this will all mean for the riding.
Booted from Liberal caucus, Vuong will technically sit as an independent if he stays in office — but members of the public, as well as his peers, are demanding that he either step down or be removed from his newly-elected position.
Amid swirling controversy, Vuong finally spoke out on the matter on Wednesday afternoon, publicly saying that he will fully address the allegations against him more wholly at a later date given that such a topic is "deserving of more discussion than this statement can provide."
"I appreciate that not everyone is happy with my election, and I very much understand why it is different in my case. For those who feel this way, I understand the source of your doubts and I will work hard to earn your trust," Vuong said in his statement shared to Twitter, in which he clarified the incident in question ever-so-slightly.
"We were involved in a casual but intimate relationship. I understood everything to be consensual, and was always respectful of her boundaries... [but] I understand why some may be hesitant to believe the allegations made against me are false even if the charges were withdrawn."
Please sign.— Wendy Potter (@wendyannpotter1) September 21, 2021
Kevin Vuong needs to step down to trigger a by-election.
This is the only respectful course of action for consituents of the riding, many of whom voted BEFORE he was dismissed as an LPC candidate.
Current results are not a fair representation of consituent voices. https://t.co/VshNpAuJkF
Though the comment on the subject was welcomed, many online want further action.
Joe Cressy, City Councillor for Spadina-Fort York, said in response that Vuong "did not earn the right to represent" the community, suggesting that the "honourable and right thing to do" would be to resign.
"If he wants to sit as an independent MP, he should campaign for the job as one," Cressy tweeted minutes after Vuong spoke out.
Kevin Vuong did not earn the right to represent our Spadina-Fort York community.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) September 22, 2021
He should do the honourable and right thing and step aside. If he wants to sit as an independent MP, he should campaign for the job as one. https://t.co/kKfaOJm9Oy
Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca shared similar sentiments, telling CTV News yesterday that Vuong should "examine his own conscience" and that he can't "responsibly serve in the capacity as an MP for that community, given the circumstances of the allegation."
Del Duca added that candidates are required to be completely honest about any personal issues that could impact their campaign, which "was not necessarily how Kevin went about doing his business."
In approving a candidate, a party must also ensure the individual "has not engaged in any claim, litigation or dispute of any sort which is liable to bring controversy or disrepute upon the qualified nomination contestant or the party."
This is the right call. I appreciate that Kevin Vuong was removed from the federal Liberal party and I'm grateful for @StevenDelDuca's position here. I hope Kevin Vuong will step down.#cdnpoli #onpoli https://t.co/WhMxvapcTb— Jill Promoli (@jillpromoli) September 21, 2021
After becoming aware of the dropped allegations just days before the election, the Liberals asked Vuong to put his campaign on pause before ultimately ousting him.
Vuong, a military officer, is being investigated by the Canadian Armed Forces for the same reason. He is also involved in a $1.5 million lawsuit that claims he unfairly cut his female business partner out of a mask-making company after a handshake deal assuring she would be made founder and partner.
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