The criminal probe comes as Tory loyalists allege vote rigging in more than a dozen ridings across Ontario
Hamilton police have officially authorized a criminal probe investigating allegations of vote rigging and ballot-stuffing at a contested Progressive Conservative nomination meeting last spring.
Vikram Singh, a Hamilton lawyer and the runner-up for the Ontario PC nomination in the riding, filed a complaint with police after launching a civil lawsuit against the party, alleging party officials rigged the vote through the “wrongful insertion of false ballots.”
As PressProgress reported in August, Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas is one of more than a dozen PC riding associations mired by reports of voting irregularities.
Last spring, 25-year-old Tory staffer Ben Levitt won the nomination following a heated meeting described to CBC News by another candidate as “the biggest undemocratic shit show I’ve ever witnessed.”
As CBC News reported in May, Singh alleges party officials meddled with the vote:
“Levitt, who had support from former federal cabinet minister John Baird, won primarily based on the votes cast at the credentials table, Singh’s team says in the filing.
There were seven regular voting tables, and Singh won those tables combined, the appeal claims. But those with issues on the list – a misspelled name or incorrect address, for example – were sent to the credentials table.
Party officials were at that table, Singh’s filing says. And Levitt won 202 of 345 of the ballots counted there to Singh’s 78 – enough to win Levitt the nomination. The party also failed to substantiate the ballots at that desk, the appeal claims.”
Both Singh and Peller appealed to the party to review the nomination, but Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown dismissed the complaint and certified Levitt’s candidacy.
Responding to Singh’s allegations, Ontario PC president Rick Dykstra stated in court documents that Brown considered Singh “unreliable” and not a “team player.”
Dykstra also suggested Singh was not the right “demographic” for the riding. As CBC News reported in August:
“Rick Dykstra, provincial party president, said in his own court filing that Singh was seen as “unreliable,” and that a “demographic analysis” showed Levitt was a better pick.”
Yet Dykstra’s story appears at odds with what Singh says in his own court filings, suggesting Brown “encouraged him to run, and even strategized with him and attended a party fundraiser at his parents’ home in December.”
Last December, Brown tweeted photos of himself smiling alongside Singh at the home of the prospective candidate’s parents:
— Patrick Brown (@brownbarrie) December 29, 2016
Whatever happened in the 5 months between the fundraiser and the nomination?
A long list of PC riding nomination scandals
As PressProgress previously reported in August, the controversy in Hamilton West– Ancaster–Dundas is only one of more than a dozen PC riding associations across Ontario rocked by controversial nomination meetings:
- Burlington: Local riding membership chair alleges voting irregularities at a nomination meeting personally chaired by Ontario PC president Rick Dykstra, claiming people not on the party’s membership list were allowed to cast votes without identifying who they were.
- Carleton: Lisa Macleod, the incumbent PC MPP in a neighbouring suburban Ottawa riding, says volunteers have quit the party and makes vague allusions to a “shady” nomination in a private e-mail leaked to the Ottawa Citizen.
- Durham: Regional Councillor Joe Neal is blocked from seeking the Tory nomination (after initially receiving approval from party bosses) due to his involvement with the Liberals in the 1980s. PC leader Patrick Brown later apologizes for making false statements attacking Neal.
- Flamborough–Glanbrook: Several prospective candidates say party officials told them PC leader Patrick Brown would refuse to sign their nomination papers even if they won.
- Guelph: Prospective candidate Thomas Mooney withdraws from nomination, declaring what he’s seen during his campaign has led him to lose “faith with the current leadership to continue in good conscience.”
- Kanata–Carleton: A month after Brown booted the local MPP from the Tory caucus, the entire riding executive tenders its resignation accusing the party officials of creating a “toxic and destructive” culture.
- King–Vaughan: Police intervene at a wild nomination meeting after prospective candidate Konstantin Toubis was blocked by party officials, leading Toubis to denouce Patrick Brown as a “dictator” and accuse party officials of behaving like “North Korea.” Stephen Harper’s former director of media relations would go on to secure the nomination.
- Milton: Party members allege supporters of candidate Parm Gill intimidated and “bullied members” during a nomination vote while volunteers stationed at ballot boxes openly promoted Gill.
- Mississauga–Erin–Mills: Former Conservative MP Bob Dechert withdraws from nomination race and pens letter declaring he’s “lost confidence in the integrity of the party’s nomination process.”
- Newmarket–Aurora: Riding executive resigns en masse after alleging the party’s nomination rules were breached by “illegal memberships.”
- Ottawa West–Nepean: Another riding executive resigns after the local riding association president pens letter to PC leader Patrick Brown alleging ballot-stuffing at the local nomination meeting influenced the outcome of the vote.
- Richmond Hill: Party members allege “irregularities” in the nomination process after groups of new members said they told “they might lose their status as Canadians” if they didn’t sign PC memberships and cast votes.
- Scarborough Centre: Police intervene at an out-of-control nomination meeting marred by allegations of voting irregularities.