OTTAWA — A Toronto MP dumped by the Liberals for not disclosing a withdrawn sexual assault charge says he believes people want to see him in Parliament and blamed political operatives and a social media crowd for wanting to see him fail.
Kevin Vuong entered the House of Commons Monday to take his seat as an Independent MP after a controversial win in Spadina-Fort York in the Sept. 20 election.
The Liberal party dropped Vuong as a candidate two days before the vote after the Toronto Star reported he had faced a sexual assault charge in 2019, which was later withdrawn. The Liberal party said it had not known about the dropped charge.
His name remained on the ballot, and after his win he decided to sit as an Independent.
Vuong apologized to his supporters, former Liberal colleagues as well Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while appearing on the Toronto radio show Moore in the Morning last week — his first interview since he won his seat.
Vuong, who has categorically denied the sexual assault allegation, said on his way into the Commons on Monday that he owned his actions and that people have reached out to encourage him to move forward.
"I think there may be a core of people on social media and, you know, political operatives who want to see me fail," he said.
"Of the many, many people who have reached out since my interview, they've encouraged me to move forward. And that's what I'm going to be doing."
"It's an honour to be able to represent the people of Spadina-Fort York, and you know, I've only received lots of messages of encouragement to continue to serve … I was fully transparent. I was on the record, and I own it right."
Liberal House Leader Mark Holland said earlier Monday that it would be best for Vuong "to step down."
Others have also urged him to walk away, including former Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, who represented the downtown Toronto riding from 2014 until he decided not to seek re-election in the recent federal vote, which is when Vuong stepped up.
"I’ve never called the residents and organizations I had the honour to work with and serve 'political operatives,'" Vaughan tweeted in response to Vuong's remarks.
"I found 'constituents' was the more appropriate term."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press