Conservatives facing criminal investigation over election law violation for the 4th election in a row

The Conservative Party of Canada is facing a criminal investigation over allegations that one of its candidates ordered senior members of his campaign team to tear down opponents’ election signs while putting up his own, making it the fourth time in as many elections that the ruling party has come under a criminal probe over election law violations.

The Peel Regional Police has launched an investigation over the incident that was caught on camera by a Liberal volunteer on Tuesday night, Detective Paul McNairn confirmed last evening.

“I don’t care,” one of the vandals is heard saying in the footage justifying his actions. “I’m doing my job.”

Under section 325(1) of the Canada Elections Act, “No person shall prevent or otherwise impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message,” including election signs as outlined in section 495(1) of the Canada Elections Act, and the offence carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

The Liberal team identified the men shown on the video as Balkar Jhutti, a major donor to Brampton Centre Tory incumbent Bal Gosal, and Harvinder Rai, but the police have yet to confirm the identities of the vandals.

Photos have emerged of Prime Minister Stephen Harper meeting Jhutti and Rai at the premises of a business owned by Jhutti.

“Under Stephen Harper, Conservatives have broken election rules in every election,” Ramesh Sangha, Liberal candidate for the riding, said. “The Liberal team remains focused on bringing positive change to the people of Brampton Centre. We will not be discouraged by dishonest Conservative election tactics.”

The Conservative Party of Canada pleaded guilty to the “in and out” scandal involving illegal transfer of money to various levels of the party to circumvent spending limits during the 2006 election campaign.

Harper’s ethics spokesperson Dean Del Mastro was jailed for his attempts to fraudulently cover up election overspending for his successful 2008 campaign for the Peterborough riding.

Conservative staffer Michael Sona was jailed over the “Robocall” scandal, where voters were directed to wrong polling stations using automated phone calls.

Conservative tactics only serve to make turn people off from voting, according to the NDP candidate Rosemary Keenan.

“It is unfortunate that think kind of tactic is being used this late in the game, especially after such a long and tenuous campaign,” Keenan told ThinkPol in an email. “It is especially disappointing for our volunteers and campaign team who have invested so much time in this election and see their hard work put down just like that sign.”

“All this style of politics does is turn people off and leave a bad taste in their mouth,” Keenan added. “People in Brampton deserve better than this and need representatives who are willing to spend more time advocating for the interests of the community. Rather than resorting to these kinds of tactics, we need a representative whose top priority is to be a strong voice for Brampton’s priorities.”

Bal Gosal was not available to comment on the matter as he was “out doorknocking,” according to his campaign team.

Our phone calls and emails to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters so far remain unanswered.

[Photo Credit: Peel Regional Police]