Calgary Liberal MP George Chahal fined for election flyer controversy

Calgary’s lone Liberal MP says he has paid a fine after a doorbell camera captured him removing an opponent’s campaign flyer and replacing it with one of his own on the eve of the last federal election.

The video showed George Chahal, who won Calgary Skyview for the Liberals in the September 2021 federal election, walking up to a constituent’s front door in the northeast Calgary neighbourhood of Temple on Sept. 19.

Chahal removed a flyer put there by members of Conservative incumbent Jag Sahota’s campaign team, which included instructions on how and where to vote.

Though Calgary police did not investigate any criminal wrongdoing, the incident prompted an investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections in late September.

On Tuesday morning, Chahal tweeted that he has accepted and paid a $500 administrative penalty that was assessed by Elections Canada.

“I want to again apologize and acknowledge my mistake,” Chahal’s tweet read.

Incorrect polling station cited, disputed in flyer swap

After the video circulated online in the days following the election, Chahal’s campaign said that he took Sahota’s flyer because it contained incorrect polling information.

But the flyer left by Chahal and provided to CBC News by homeowner Glenn Pennett, a retired police officer, directed the voter to a polling station 16 kilometres from the one where he said he was required to cast a ballot.

Calgary-Skyview MP George Chahal was caught on a security camera removing his opponent, Jag Sahota’s, campaign flyer the night before Election Day in the community of Temple. (Submitted by Glenn Pennett)

Sahota’s lawyer, Kyle Shewchuk, provided CBC News with a copy of the flyer he said was identical to the one taken by Chahal, which includes information about the proper polling station.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections told CBC News in September that the Canada Elections Act contains a section on impairing or preventing the transmission of election advertising that includes defacing or removing election signs or other election advertisements.

The penalties set out in the act include a of fine of up to $5,000 and the possibility of up to six months in prison. The commissioner can also use informal means to resolve a complaint, like a caution or an information letter.

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