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Liberal Kevin Vuong Toronto twitter, petition past sexual assault case

Kevin Vuong, where are you? Embattled Member of Parliament remains silent following the dismissal of a sex assault allegation following the election.

A full month after promising to address a sexual assault accusation brought against him in 2019 and then dropped, newly elected Toronto MP Kevin Vuong has stayed silent and out of sight on the subject.

A full month after promising to address a sexual assault accusation brought against him in 2019 and then dropped, newly elected Toronto MP Kevin Vuong has stayed silent and out of sight on the subject.

While Vuong is still active on social media, reposting messages from the prime minister and other Liberals, he has not publicly responded to concerns from constituents about why he withheld information about his history from the party or the public.

Vuong campaigned as a Liberal candidate in the downtown constituency of Spadina—Fort York to succeed retiring MP Adam Vaughan. After it was revealed late in the campaign that Vuong had previously been charged with sexual assault — a charge that was later dismissed — the party disavowed him as a candidate and stated that he would not serve as a Liberal MP if elected.

This change occurred far too late. Vuong, a military reservist and law school graduate, was nonetheless named as the Liberal candidate on all ballots in the riding.

Liberal Kevin Vuong Toronto twitter, petition past sexual assault case
Kevin Vuong was a Liberal candidate but was kicked out of the party just before the federal election on September 20.

Despite calls for resignation, ex-Liberal MP hopes to sit as an Independent.

Kevin Vuong, the newly elected Independent Member of Parliament for Toronto, says he will continue to represent his constituency, despite mounting demand on him to resign to allow for a byelection. Vuong was dropped by the Liberal party days before the election due to prior sexual assault claims. 1:51

On Sep. 22, two days after the election, Vuong stated that he would "work diligently to win [voters'] trust" and later clarified in a second statement that he would serve as an independent MP. Regarding the previous sexual assault allegation, he added, "I aim to address these more fully in a dedicated forum at a later date."

Both statements have since been removed from Vuong's Twitter profile, and he has not responded to CBC News' texts, calls, emails, or Twitter direct messages.

A journalist paid a visit to the Spadina Avenue address mentioned on Vuong's new House of Commons website on Thursday. According to the building directory, the office was still occupied by "Adam Vaughan, MP," and a sign left on the door referred constituent inquiries to Vaughan, the former occupier.

Liberal lawn signs supporting Kevin Vuong were still visible in the Spadina—Fort York riding two days before the election, despite the party's expulsion of him on Sep. 18.
Liberal lawn signs supporting Kevin Vuong were still visible in the Spadina—Fort York riding two days before the election, despite the party's expulsion of him on Sep. 18.

Vuong tweeted last week about establishing his new constituency office, writing, "We have been rigorous in taking swift action on what is within our control."

Other new members of Parliament arrived in Ottawa on Sep. 27 for orientation, but CBC was unable to confirm whether Vuong appeared in person or virtually.

According to a former campaign staffer, they were unaware whether Vuong had been sworn in as an MP; certain swearing-in events are being done in private due to pandemic regulations.

A representative for the Speaker's Office of the House of Commons said the office could not confirm if Vuong had been sworn in, but that all MPs must be before assuming their seats.

Several of Vuong's constituents stated that they received no response to their inquiries after contacting his office.

Nataliya Gurba contacted and tweeted Vuong, asking why he hasn't resigned as a Liberal after being forced to run as an Independent. Gurba received an automated email response in the typical manner.

"Because we are still creating our constituency procedures and protocols, please be aware that response times may be longer than usual," the email states.

"I'm quite concerned that he hasn't addressed the earlier charges," Gurba told CBC News. "He has emphasized reestablishing trust with the community, but I believe that reestablishing trust begins with accountability."

Over 5,000 people signed an online petition urging Vuong to quit.

Until September, Liberal Adam Vaughan represented Toronto's Spadina—Fort York riding.
Until September, Liberal Adam Vaughan represented Toronto's Spadina—Fort York riding.

In 2019, a sexual assault charge was dropped.

Vuong, now 32, was charged with one count of sexual assault in Toronto in April 2019. The charge was dropped in November, according to a representative for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. The Toronto Star was the first to report the charge.

The Crown "is required to withdraw charges if no realistic probability of conviction exists or if proceeding is not in the public interest," ministry spokesperson Miranda Prescott said in an email.

Vuong stated in a statement that was later deleted on Twitter that the case involved "a casual yet intimate connection" and that he "understood everything to be consensual."

Vuong's Liberal campaign officials stated that he was formally asked at least two questions during the party's vetting process, which should have prompted him to reveal the 2019 sexual assault complaint. According to them, Vuong was questioned about whether he had ever faced criminal charges and whether anything in his history could shame him or the party if published.

The Canadian Armed Forces also stated that they were evaluating Vuong's file following their September discovery of the 2019 case. Members — including reservists like Vuong — are expected to inform their chain of command of criminal accusations.

"It's quite difficult to unearth secrets during the vetting process if the person you're relying on to be honest does not tell the truth," Vaughan, the former Liberal MP, recently told the CBC.

Vaughan stated that he informed Vuong on election night that if he won, he would be forced to retire because "claiming victory on these pretexts, with this kind of shadow hanging over his head, was wrong."

Vuong was also implicated in a $1.5 million lawsuit brought against him by a former associate in connection with a pandemic mask manufacturing firm. Vuong refuted the lawsuit's allegations. They have not been established in a court of law. Vaughan stated that he was also unaware of the matter prior to it being mentioned in the media.

On Sep. 25, Vuong stated on social media that he wants to "apologize for the lack of disclosure." Later, he deleted the post.

Kevin Vuong has declared his intention to run as an Independent.
Kevin Vuong has declared his intention to run as an Independent.

'Independent' Member of Parliament?

Vuong pledged in the same deleted post to run as an Independent Member of Parliament. Constituents, on the other hand, may be forgiven for being unaware of his break with the Liberals.

His Twitter profile, official website, and LinkedIn profile all list him as an elected Member of Parliament – yet all omit the word "Independent." He is still listed as the Liberal candidate for Spadina—Fort York by Elections Canada. And as of Thursday afternoon, Vuong had retweeted at least 21 posts in the previous week from past or current Liberal MPs and federal ministries.

Parliament will reconvene on Nov. 22. Members of Parliament have the authority to eject a member of the Commons, however this has not been done since 1947.

"This is not the first time this has happened," Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, told CBC following the election. "We've had NDP, Conservative, and Liberal candidates who were disowned by their parties following the printing of the ballots." The distinction here is that he is the sole elector."

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