Ousted Liberal candidate for Spadina-Fort York Kevin Vuong says “there is work to be done to regain trust” but that he “fully intends to do so” amid calls for his resignation.
The Liberal Party cut ties with Vuong days before the election following an investigation into a past sexual assault allegation in 2019. He is currently leading the vote and is poised to win the riding. There is approximately 4,300 special ballots (mail-in ballots) to be counted.
Close behind is NDP candidate Norm Di Pasquale.
A petition was launched Tuesday calling for Vuong to resign. As of Wednesday afternoon it had just over 1,500 signatures.
“On Monday, Canadians across the country cast their votes. Not everyone will have received the result they wanted, but everyone is counting on those elected to devote themselves to the service of everyone they represent. That is what I intend to do,” Vuong wrote in a statement on Twitter Wednesday.
“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 was asked by the Liberal Party to “pause” his campaign on Friday, and on Saturday, the party said he would no longer be affiliated with the Liberals.
“We take any allegation extremely seriously,” a Liberal Party spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Global News at the time.
Since it was too late to remove him from the ballot, the party added that “should he be elected, he will not be a member of the Liberal caucus.”
Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca was seen in social media images campaigning with Vuong before details of the dropped charge were known. He said in a statement on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe Vuong should sit in parliament.
“While I did not know about the serious allegations against him when I visited Spadina-Fort York, I can assure you he will have no place in the Ontario Liberal Party,” he wrote.
Vuong, who has been in the Naval Reserves since 2015, is also under review by the Canadian Armed Forces.
He became the Liberal candidate for the riding after incumbent Liberal MP Adam Vaughan announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in the summer.
In his statement, Vuong said he acknowledges the events in the days leading up to the election, writing ‘”allegations of sexual assault are a serious matter, deserving of more discussion than this statement could provide.”
He said he will be addressing the allegations “more wholly” at a later date.
Global News spoke with the complainant Friday afternoon. The woman, who Global News agreed not to identify, confirmed the details outlined in the Toronto Star’s original report on the story.
The woman involved said that she had gone on several dates with Vuong in 2019 after meeting through a dating app in February. She claimed the alleged assault happened on April 8, when he came over to watch a movie with her.
The Crown ultimately dropped the charge against Vuong in 2019.
Vuong said the relationship was “casual but intimate” one.
“I understood everything to be consensual, and was always respectful of her boundaries,” he wrote. “I do not take these allegations against me lightly.”
“For years, the voices of those who have experienced sexual violence were silenced. Given these challenges, I understand why some may be hesitant to believe the allegations made against me are flase even if the charges were withdrawn.”
The alleged victim said she was in the United States for two months and only upon returning to Canada realized that Vuong was the Liberal candidate in her riding.
“I didn’t even know he was involved with politics anymore at all,” she said.
The woman said she saw his name on an election sign and immediately paused.
“I started having a meltdown because I realized I hadn’t heard anything and all of a sudden … he’s allowed to run for office?” she said.
“It makes me afraid. It makes me fearful. I don’t even want to go walk my dog outside my house because I just don’t want to see his signs …
“I definitely don’t want to be represented by somebody who essentially abused me and I don’t want to see his name everywhere.”
— With files from Emerald Bensadoun, Nick Westoll and Ahmar Khan
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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