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Canada Liberal MP George Chahal doesn't make cabinet, despite expectations

05:31  28 october  2021
05:31  28 october  2021 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in town to rally with candidate George Chahal at the Whitehorn Community Centre in Calgary on Thursday, August 19, 2021. © Provided by Calgary Herald Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in town to rally with candidate George Chahal at the Whitehorn Community Centre in Calgary on Thursday, August 19, 2021.

Calgary’s only Liberal MP didn’t make the cut for cabinet when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his picks Tuesday.

Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal, formerly a city councillor, was one of just two Liberals elected in Alberta last month. Many political watchers said he’d likely be a shoo-in for a cabinet post after Liberals were shut out in the province in the 2019 election.

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But shortly after the 2021 vote, doorbell camera footage emerged that appears to show Chahal removing a Conservative flyer from a home’s doorstep and replacing it with his own. Chahal’s campaign manager said he took the brochure because it had inaccurate information about where to vote, but former Conservative MP Jag Sahota said it was the Liberal flyer that listed an incorrect polling location.

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In a recent interview with CTV News , Chahal said the flyer incident was “a dumb mistake.”

A lawyer for Sahota said Tuesday he’s finalizing an application to the Court of Queen’s Bench seeking to overturn the election results in Calgary-Skyview.

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“We’re actually finalizing our last few affidavits and they expect to be filed by the end of the week,” said Kyle Shewchuk.

Shewchuk said he’s also aware that an investigation by the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections is currently underway, since investigators have spoken to the man who lives at the house where Chahal is alleged to have improperly removed campaign material.

“I do know that Elections has interviewed Glenn Pennett,” he said.

A representative from the commissioner’s office has said that to maintain confidentiality, they generally don’t confirm whether they have received complaints or are looking into any issues.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said he thinks the incident cost Chahal a bigger role in government.

“They wanted to appoint Chahal, but there’s just no way that they could,” he said. “You can’t put him in a portfolio . . . especially given that the previous two Liberals (in Calgary), one was removed from caucus and one was removed from cabinet.”

The new cabinet is a slightly larger lineup that adds nine new faces, drops three and moves most other senior ministers to new posts. Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault — the only other Liberal elected in Alberta — will be tourism and associate finance minister .

Chahal congratulated Boissonnault on Twitter, saying he would be “a strong voice for Alberta.”

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Tuesday it’s “disappointing” not to have representation from Calgary in cabinet, but she added she’s still determined to forge connections to the federal government, noting she has an upcoming meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“As mayor, I know that I will work with council to make sure we build strong relationships with federal ministries and office of the prime minister and deputy prime minister so that our needs can be well understood.”

Bratt said if the flyer episode is resolved and Chahal’s name is cleared, he might yet earn a cabinet spot in a shuffle. For now, it’s more of the same for Calgary, which is almost entirely Conservative blue while a Liberal government is in power.

“We’re used to being frozen out,” he said. “So this is just standard practice.”

— With files from Meghan Potkins and The Canadian Press

masmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @meksmith

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