Kitchener-Centre Liberal candidate Raj Saini announced today that he has dropped out of the election race.
The decision comes after accusations arose in national media that he had engaged in inappropriate behaviour with female staff -- accusations he says are "unequivocally false."
In a statement, he said he is dropping out as the "campaign no longer serves the best interests of my family, staff members, campaign team, and constituents. For everyone's health and safety I have taken the painful decision to end my campaign for the 44th parliament," he said.
Saini says he will instead be focusing his attention on challenging the "defamatory false accusations" made against him, and is in the process of consulting legal counsel.
Elections Canada confirms to 570 NEWS that Raj Saini's name will still appear on the ballot because his nomination has already been processed through. Any votes for Raj Saini in Kitchener-Centre will still count.
During a campaign stop in Markham on Sunday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau confirmed Raj Saini will not be a member of the Liberal party or caucus in the hypothetical scenario where wins the race in Kitchener-Centre.
His full statement can be read below.
On August 31, 2021, a story appeared in the national media stating that I had engaged in inappropriate behaviour with female staff. The statements are unequivocally false. I have never acted inappropriately towards staff, volunteers, or constituents. As a trained professional, and as someone who values integrity, I have always maintained appropriate boundaries and fostered a working environment of respect, professionalism, and inclusivity, to which my staff and campaign team have publicly attested earlier this week.
I have only ever been made aware of one allegation regarding my office. The individual chose not to pursue a formal or informal complaint process. Upon learning of this, I insisted that an independent third-party review of my office take place through the House of Commons. The outcome of that review, which was completed in June 2020, found that nothing arose regarding concerns of harassment in the office.
Further, the file was provided to the Waterloo Regional Police after concerns were raised by the House of Commons regarding my personal safety and the safety of my staff. The police, in this instance, took action to mediate the situation and ensure the safety of everyone involved.
At this time, the story containing false allegations has now been widely circulated. The false allegations have been reported uncritically and at face value, and consistently repeated in other news stories. Furthermore, the false allegations are now being referenced widely in statements by other prominent individuals.
As the son of immigrants and a person of colour I have the strongest appreciation for Canada’s values of inclusivity, fairness and due process, values that have given me the opportunity to pursue a higher education, develop a business of which I am proud, and serve the highest calling, that of a Member of Parliament. I am very proud of my work for Kitchener Centre, work to which I committed myself wholly, gladly, and effectively. However, continuing my campaign no longer serves the best interests of my family, staff members, campaign team, and constituents. For everyone’s health and safety I have taken the painful decision to end my campaign for the 44th Parliament.
I will be focusing all my attention and efforts to challenge these defamatory false accusations and am in the process of consulting legal counsel to review all options.
I would like to thank my immensely talented staff, with whom it has been a privilege to work, and my campaign team, who have been steadfast in their support of me for the past six years. I would like to thank the constituents of the great riding of Kitchener Centre; it has been an honour to serve you.
Finally, I would like to express my profound thanks to my family, who have been beside me through this journey from the start.