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Liberal MP George Chahal fined $500 for taking Tory election leaflet from front door

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OTTAWA — Member of Parliament George Chahal has paid a $500 fine after taking an opponent's campaign flyer from a front door and replacing it with his own during last year's election. 

The Liberal MP for Calgary Skyview was captured on a doorbell camera removing the Conservative leaflet while he was going door to door as a candidate. 

In a statement on Twitter Tuesday, the MP apologized for his mistake and said he had paid a $500 administrative penalty levied by the elections watchdog. 

The elections commissioner investigated the incident after the footage emerged of the MP and after receiving multiple complaints. 

In findings posted online, the commissioner concluded that an aggravating factor was that candidates who fail to abide by rules adopted by Parliament could "contribute to a loss of public confidence in the integrity of members of the political class." This risks increasing voter apathy, the commissioner said.

The commissioner added that the MP and his staff had co-operated fully with the investigation, which was a mitigating factor. 

"The (penalty) was in the amount of $500 and is intended to address violations related to preventing or impairing the transmission of election advertising," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Conservative MP John Brassard, the ethics critic, called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to share whether he plans to discipline Chahal for his actions.

"Canadians need to trust those in power to follow the law," Brassard said in a written statement sent by the Conservative party.

"There can’t be two sets of rules, one for Trudeau and his party, and one for the rest of us. Justin Trudeau must now tell Canadians what punishment there will be for Chahal or if this is just business as usual for a member of his caucus," he said.

The Canada Elections Act prohibits people from preventing election advertising being communicated to the public. The commissioner is responsible for ensuring compliance with the act.

The elections commissioner's office said it had issued the penalty to Chahal, and not Elections Canada, the body which ran the election, as stated in his tweet. 

As one of only two Liberals elected in Alberta, Chahal was considered a possible cabinet contender. However, Trudeau ultimately only selected Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault for cabinet, naming him tourism minister and associate minister of finance.

Chahal disclosed over the weekend that anti-vaccine protesters had gathered outside his house in Calgary waving placards while he was celebrating his wife's birthday. The MP wrote on Twitter that the protesters were trying to "intimidate" him and his family.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2022. 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press