If Toronto’s embattled incoming MP Kevin Vuong refuses to give up his House of Commons seat, despite mounting pressure to do so, could his fellow Members of Parliament just kick him out?
The answer is yes.
However, it is doubtful if that actually happens, experts say.
“In theory, the House has the authority to expel a member. He governs himself (and) he can choose to expel practically on whatever basis he wants, ”said Emmett Macfarlane, professor of political science at the University of Waterloo.
“But it would be, in practice, an extraordinary step. This is not something that really happened in the modern era at all. ”
An expulsion would result in Vuong’s seat being declared vacant, leading to a by-election.
That has only happened four times, the most recent in 1947; two of those expulsions were of the Métis leader and politician Louis Riel in the 19th century.
Vuong was dismissed by the Liberal party as its candidate in Spadina, Fort York, just days before the election, after the Star revealed that he had been charged with sexual assault in 2019. That charge was later dropped by the Crown, and Vuong has denied any wrongdoing. .
While Vuong did not tell the party that he had been indicted when he was selected as a nominee, the Liberals may have independently discovered that information, raising questions about the party’s vetting process for its nominees.
Despite his party’s disapproval, Vuong’s name remained on the ballot as a Liberal candidate in Spadina – Fort York, and he won the race in last week’s election. That led some voters, who voted by mail or in early elections before the Star story was published, to complain that they had cast their votes before crucial information came to light.
If Vuong resigned now, that would also trigger a by-election.
But in a short statement over the weekend, he doubled down on his decision to sit in the House as an Independent, despite calls for him to step aside from Spadina, Fort York’s liberal riding association, his predecessor, other MPs, councilors. and numerous constituents.
If Vuong were ousted, “the House would essentially be saying ‘We are defending the right of voters to have an honest candidate, to have an honest MP,’ and if he wants to defend that case, then he can move on. and do it, ”said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch.
Conacher said he believes there should be an expulsion order due to the fact that Vuong did not reveal key information. Then, if he were expelled from the House, “he could run again and try to win with his defense of what happened, and the voters will decide.”
But whether other MPs really want to oust Vuong is another matter.
Certainly, his case is not the first case in which voters have learned new information about a candidate, either during a campaign or after an election, Macfarlane said.
“So if the precedent was that every time a candidate withholds potentially relevant information, they should be kicked out of the House, I think that would become quite untenable as a rule rather quickly,” he said.
“I would not be surprised if he sat until the next election, but I do not rule out expulsion. There are political and perceptual reasons why some parliamentarians might support his expulsion at the same time.
University of Toronto political science professor Christopher Cochrane said Vuong is more likely to be “completely ignored” as an independent MP in the House of Commons.
“Obviously it is a power that can be abused, so there are good reasons to be careful, err on the side of not expelling someone, although we could agree on this particular case, it may well be justified,” he said.
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