After a request from the NDP, Ontario’s elections watchdog is reviewing whether any Progressive Conservative candidates used stolen data as part of their nomination campaigns.
The request came after former PC candidate in Brampton East Simmer Sandhu hastily resigned his candidacy following allegations that he may have been involved in a data theft from his former employer, 407 ETR. The company that runs the toll roads on the 407 reported that data was stolen from 60,000 customers over a 12-month period. That same data was used to help candidates win their local nomination races.
Sandhu is denying the allegations, but it has put the PCs under further scrutiny after evidence has surfaced showing that the local candidate nomination process in a number of areas hasn’t been completely democratic.
As of now the complaint by the NDP has been filed with Elections Canada and is under review, but an official investigation hasn’t been launched yet. The party has requested that Elections Ontario investigate PC nominations in 12 ridings — Brampton South, Brampton West, Brampton Centre, Mississauga East-Cooksville, Mississauga-Streetsville, Mississauga-Lakeshore, Mississauga-Erin Mills, Oakville, Beaches-East York, Milton, and Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, which is currently under investigation by Hamilton police already.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath is pushing to have the review done by June 7 and it could affect some Brampton candidates who have connections to Snover Dhillon, a campaign organizer accused of helping candidates to win local nominations by using stolen data and other undemocratic tactics.
One of Dhillon’s candidates was former candidate Simmer Sandhu, and while it doesn’t seem that Dhillon managed campaigns for any other candidates in Brampton, it appears some do have connections to him.
Last summer Dhillon held an invite-only barbecue in Brampton for a not-for-profit he founded. Listed on the poster invitation for the event were local PC candidates Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria (Brampton South) and Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West).
As of now Simmer Sandhu is the only candidate to step down after the controversy but Ontario PC leader Doug Ford says he’s prepared to remove other candidates if necessary saying that, “Once new revelations come to us, we sit down just like I did with the Brampton East candidate and we’ll address it,” Ford said Wednesday on the campaign trail in Windsor. “We’ll address it immediately and, as I said over and over again, we won’t tolerate anything along those lines as we did with the Brampton East candidate.”