Kevin Vuong

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Kevin Vuong
Member of Parliament
for Spadina—Fort York
Assumed office
September 20, 2021
Preceded byAdam Vaughan
Personal details
Bornc. 1989 (age 33–34)
Political partyIndependent (2021–present)
Other political
affiliations
Liberal (2021)
Alma materUniversity of Western Ontario (BMOS)
University of Toronto (GPLLM)
Profession
  • Businessman
  • politician
  • Military reserve officer
Military service
Branch/service Royal Canadian Navy (reserve)
Years of service2015–present
RankCanadian RCN OF-1b.svg Sub-Lieutenant
UnitHMCS York

Kevin Vuong MP (born c. 1989)[1] is a Canadian politician serving as the member of Parliament (MP) for Spadina—Fort York since the 2021 federal election, sitting as an Independent. While Vuong was nominated as a Liberal Party candidate, the party disavowed him days before the election, following reports of an ongoing lawsuit against him as well as a dropped sexual assault charge from 2019, which he had failed to disclose during the party's internal vetting process. As nominations had already closed by that point, Vuong remained on the ballot as a Liberal and was elected.

Prior to entering politics, Vuong worked in the business and finance industry and served as a reserve officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Background[edit]

Vuong's parents are refugees from the Vietnam War. He grew up in Brampton, Ontario.[1]

Vuong was a member of the Canadian Y20 delegation to the 2013 G20 Summit. He led multilateral negotiations for two working groups — international financial regulation and infrastructure development — and he and his team presented a final report to the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and other G20 leaders on combating global tax havens.[2]

Military career[edit]

Vuong joined the Canadian Forces Naval Reserve as an intelligence officer. After three years, he completed an occupational transfer to join the public affairs branch, and was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant in 2021. He is currently under military investigation for failure to notify the Canadian Armed Forces in 2019 about the arrest for his sexual assault charge.[3] Vuong served as a public affairs officer at HMCS York.[1]

In November 2020, Vuong was named as a NATO 2030 Young Leader for Canada,[4] the only Canadian, to join 13 other leaders to advise him on the future of the 30-member Alliance.[5][6]

Political career[edit]

Municipal politics[edit]

Vuong advocated for a price for congestion with Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, penning an opinion-editorial with economist and commission chair Christopher Ragan, that highlighted the social costs to youth and people of colour.[7] He was co-chair of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy,[8] where he helped to secure $958,000 for youth social infrastructure[9] and fought to give youth a meaningful role in police governance[10] and racial discrimination and lost of trust in policing.[11] This included the designation of an annual Youth Week in Toronto.[10] Vuong also advocated for programming for vulnerable youth and against the cancellation of affordable "Youth Days" at the Canadian National Exhibition.[10][12] He pushed the City of Toronto for specific roles, representation, and powers to young people, particularly in city planning issues.[13] While pursuing his master's degree, he hosted a two-day summit to inspire a more sustainable and inclusive Toronto backed by United Nations (UN)-Habitat on the UN New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.[14]

2018 Toronto City Council campaign[edit]

Vuong ran for Toronto City Council in Ward 10 Spadina—Fort York during the 2018 municipal election. His campaign was focused on highlighting the lack of services and infrastructure downtown, an understanding of vertical living that leveraged his many years as president of his condominium board, and climate adaptation and action for vertical communities.[15] During the campaign, the conversion of King Street as a popular thoroughfare to a transit-focused street hit a flashpoint. Vuong organized "King Street Eats" to help local restaurants adapt and attract customers.[16] He claims he was pressured to drop out of the race by incumbent councillor Joe Cressy.[17] Vuong received an endorsement from the Toronto Sun.[18]

2021 Canadian federal election[edit]

Shortly before 2021 Canadian federal election, the Toronto Star reported on August 10 that Vuong was expected to be tapped by the Liberal Party as the candidate for Spadina-Fort York following incumbent MP Adam Vaughan's surprise announcement of his retirement.[19] The Liberals announced that he was acclaimed the candidate on August 13.[20]

Legal issues[edit]

On September 1, 2021, The Globe and Mail and other media outlets reported that Vuong was also involved in a $1.5 million lawsuit filed against him for his mask making business, TakeCare Supply.[20]

On September 16, the Toronto Star reported through the release of court documents that Vuong had been charged with sexual assault in 2019.[21] The charges to this case were dropped shortly after.[22] Vuong did not disclose either the withdrawn charge or the ongoing lawsuit to the Liberal Party, despite it being a requirement that he disclose such information during the vetting process.

Vuong has said that he would like to "unequivocally state that these allegations are false" and that "I vigorously fought these allegations when they were initially brought forward. The allegations were withdrawn. Had they not been withdrawn, I would have continued to defend myself against these false allegations",[23] and that the "re-surfacing three days before the election is deeply troubling to me and my family".[24] Vuong said the relationship was "a casual but intimate relationship" and that he "understood everything to be consensual."[25] The Royal Canadian Navy would later charge Vuong on February 25, 2022, under the National Defence Act (NDA) for failing to disclose the initial sexual assault charge to his chain of command.[26][27]

Vuong chose to face a summary trial instead of a court-martial. The trial was held at the HMCS Donnacona, a naval reserve unit based in Montreal on July 20, 2022. Vuong admitted the particulars underlying the charge, was found guilty, and fined $500.[28]

Reactions[edit]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party responded to the report on September 17, stating "We are a party that always takes seriously any allegations or reports of sexual harassment or intimidation or assault" and that "We are looking into it very carefully and we have asked the candidate to pause his campaign".[23]

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh said that Vuong had either "lied" to the Liberals,[24] or the party knew about them anyways and was putting his ambitions "over the lives and well-being of women".[29] Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole called on "Justin Trudeau must do the right thing and immediately fire this candidate and confirm that, if elected, this candidate will not sit in the Liberal caucus".[29]

The Department of National Defence announced that the military would also review Vuong's file, as Vuong had failed to share the criminal charge with his chain of command.[24]

On September 18, due to the lack of disclosure, the Liberals announced that Vuong would not be allowed to sit in Parliament as a Liberal if he won.[30]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Despite being dropped by the Liberal Party and his ongoing legal issues, Vuong refused to drop out of the race. He was elected to Parliament on September 20, and announced his intention to sit as an Independent following the election.[31]

Vuong's victory was extremely controversial. Of the ballots cast on election day, he polled 2,261 fewer votes than New Democratic Party candidate Norm Di Pasquale.[32] Vuong was therefore elected as a result of advance polls and mail-in ballots, which had commenced several days prior to the scandal becoming public knowledge. On September 22, two days following the federal election, Vuong said on Twitter that he would "work hard to earn [voters'] trust" and that he intended to address his sexual assault allegations, stating: "I intend to address them at a later date more wholly in a dedicated forum",[25] subsequently participating in an interview with John Moore on CFRB.[33] Vuong added that "allegations of sexual assault are a serious matter, deserving of more discussion than this statement can provide."[34] Vuong later deleted the tweet containing the statement.[25]

Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca called for Vuong to "examine his conscience" to see if he could credibly take his seat even as an independent, "given the circumstances of the allegation" against him. He also said that Vuong not be allowed to run as a Liberal at the provincial level even if he was cleared.[35] Vuong's predecessor, Adam Vaughan also called for Vuong to resign, saying that Vuong could not honourably take up a "compromised seat" that he had won via "a compromised victory".[36]

On March 10, 2022, CBC News reported that the Royal Canadian Navy charged Vuong under the National Defence Act the prior month on February 25, 2022, for failing to disclose his initial arrest and charge for sexual assault to his chain of command in 2019.[26][27] In July 2022, a Naval spokesperson confirmed that Vuong had been fined $500 for failing to tell the Royal Canadian Navy about a 2019 sexual assault charge.[37]

Combating racism[edit]

Vuong has raised the issue of racism and called on the federal government to take greater action to combat racism and, in particular anti-Asian hate.[38] He is the sponsoring Member of Parliament for a petition to the House of Commons, initiated by Marvin Rotrand, that calls on the "Government of Canada deny public funding or assistance to any domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations who promote or engage in antisemitism, as defined in the IHRA working definition of antisemitism."

Russian invasion of Ukraine[edit]

On March 15, 2022, Vuong was among the list of 313 Canadian officials and parliamentarians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sanctioned by and banned from Russia.[39] Previously, Vuong and other NATO 2030 leaders had recommended to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg a "dual-track approach to relations with Russia… to reinforce [NATO’s] defence and deterrence posture."[40]

Electoral record[edit]

2021 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Kevin Vuong 18,991 38.9 -16.90
New Democratic Norm Di Pasquale 16,833 34.5 +14.38
Conservative Sukhi Jandu 9,875 20.2 +2.63
Green Amanda Rosenstock 1,645 3.4 -1.83
People's Ian Roden 1,476 3.0 +1.92
Total valid votes 48,820
Total rejected ballots
Turnout 48,820 54.25
Eligible voters 89,998
Source: Elections Canada[41]
2018 Toronto municipal election, Ward 10 Spadina—Fort York
Candidate Votes Vote share
Joe Cressy 15,903 55.06%
April Engelberg 3,346 11.58%
Kevin Vuong 3,018 10.45%
Sabrina Zuniga 1,564 5.41%
John Nguyen 1,032 3.57%
Karlene Nation 860 2.98%
Rick Myers 747 2.59%
Dean Maher 611 2.12%
Al Carbone 519 1.8%
Andrew Massey 473 1.64%
Michael Barcelos 451 1.56%
Edris Zalmai 147 0.51%
Andrei Zodian 133 0.46%
Ahdam Dour 80 0.28%
Total 28,884
100%
Source: City of Toronto[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gross, Karen (21 November 2016). "Meet GPLLM student Kevin Vuong, one of Canada's "Top 30 Under 30" | Global Professional LLM (GPLLM)". gpllm.law.utoronto.ca. Archived from the original on 21 September 2021.
  2. ^ Panjwani, Radhika (4 August 2013). "Bramptonian's ideas hit the right note in Russia". Brampton Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  3. ^ Burke, Ashley. "Toronto Liberal candidate who paused campaign under review by military over dropped sexual assault charge". CBC.
  4. ^ "NATO2030". NATO2030. NATO. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Western grad among youth leaders advising on the future of NATO". CBC News. CBC. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  6. ^ Government of Canada, National Defence (19 March 2021). "Navy News | Acting Sub-Lieutenant Kevin Vuong: Canada's NATO 2030 Young Leader". www.navy-marine.forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Opinion | Social mobility is the other victim of traffic congestion". The Toronto Star. 2 November 2015. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  8. ^ Lamb, Crystal (3 September 2016). "Expanding, the definition - Giving to Western". www.giving.westernu.ca. Retrieved 30 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Staff, CK (13 October 2016). "Meet the Canadian Top 30 Under 30". No. Fall 2016. Corporate Knights Magazine. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Toronto aims to dedicate a week to celebrate youth". The Toronto Star. 2 March 2017. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  11. ^ "What do young people want to see in Toronto's next police chief?". capg.ca. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  12. ^ "CNE quietly cancels annual Youth Day - CityNews Toronto". toronto.citynews.ca. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  13. ^ Torontoist (19 July 2016). "The City Wants to Engage More Youth in Urban Planning". Torontoist. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  14. ^ Levine, Romi (25 August 2017). "GPLLM student Kevin Vuong co-organizes Inclusive Cities Summit". Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Meet the millennials vying to unseat incumbents in Toronto". www.vice.com. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  16. ^ Spurr, Ben (29 January 2018). "In a show of support, streetcar advocates dine out on King St". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  17. ^ "Council Candidate Claims Cressy Pressured Him To Drop Out Of Race", torontosun, retrieved 21 September 2021
  18. ^ "Toronto Sun endorsements for city council". torontosun. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  19. ^ Boutilier, Alex (10 August 2021). "Liberals expected to tap Kevin Vuong for Spadina—Fort York". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  20. ^ a b Curry, Bill (1 September 2021). "Liberal candidate facing $1.5-million lawsuit over pandemic mask-making business". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  21. ^ Kwong, Evelyn; Ballingall, Alex; Hasham, Alyshah (16 September 2021). "Liberals ask Toronto candidate to 'pause' campaign after dropped sexual assault charge was revealed". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Liberals cut ties with Toronto candidate after news of dropped sex assault charge". CTV News Toronto. 18 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  23. ^ a b Lowrie, Morgan (18 September 2021). "Trudeau said he wasn't aware of dropped sexual assault charge against Toronto candidate until now". National Post. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  24. ^ a b c Burke, Ashley (17 September 2021). "Toronto Liberal candidate who paused campaign under review by military over dropped sexual assault charge". CBC News.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ a b c Daigle, Thomas (22 October 2021). "Where's Kevin Vuong? Embattled MP still silent on dropped sex assault charge following election". CBC News.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ a b Burke, Ashley; Daigle, Thomas (10 March 2022). "Navy hits MP Kevin Vuong with a service offence charge for failing to disclose 2019 arrest". CBC News.
  27. ^ a b Boyd, Alex (10 March 2022). "Toronto MP Kevin Vuong faces fresh charge for not reporting 2019 arrest to military". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  28. ^ Raycraft, Richard (20 July 2022). "Military fines MP Kevin Vuong for failing to report criminal charge". CBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  29. ^ a b Jeff, Labine (17 September 2021). "Libs ask candidate to pause campaign after 2019 charge revealed". iPolitics. Retrieved 22 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Former Liberal Candidate Kevin Vuong Projected To Win Spadina Fort York", www.cp24.com, 21 September 2021, retrieved 21 September 2021
  31. ^ "Expelled Liberal candidate says he'll sit as an Independent as angry voters call for byelection | CBC News".
  32. ^ "2021 poll results for Spadina—Fort York | Elections Canada".
  33. ^ "LISTEN: Controversial Spadina-Fort York MP Kevin Vuong breaks his silence". www.iheartradio.ca. Bell Media. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  34. ^ "Former Liberal candidate dropped from party amid controversy says he'll sit as MP after winning Toronto riding". Toronto. 22 September 2021. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  35. ^ Média, Bell (21 September 2021). "Vuong should 'examine his conscience' and not sit as MP, Ontario Liberal leader says". CFTO-DT. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  36. ^ "Former Liberal MP Adam Vaughan urges successor Kevin Vuong to resign, not sit as independent MP". The Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  37. ^ "MP Kevin Vuong fined for failing to report sex assault charge to Naval Reserve". CTVNews. 20 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  38. ^ "Debates (Hansard) No. 7 - November 30, 2021 (44-1) - House of Commons of Canada". www.ourcommons.ca. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  39. ^ "Request Rejected".
  40. ^ https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/2021/2/pdf/210204-NATO2030-YoungLeadersReport.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  41. ^ "List of confirmed candidates – September 20, 2021 Federal Election". Elections Canada. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  42. ^ "Declaration of Results" (PDF). Toronto City Clerk's Office. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 October 2018.

External links[edit]