Kitchener Centre Liberal candidate Raj Saini drops out of MP race

Raj Saini, the Liberal candidate for the Kitchener Centre MP race, has ended his campaign, citing the health and safety of those around him following “false allegations” as the reason for his decision.

Saini, who has been the incumbent Member of Parliament for the area since 2015, made the announcement via statement on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

In the statement, he continues to deny allegations that he engaged in inappropriate behaviour with female staff.

He says he’s only been made aware of the one allegation, the individual did not pursue an informal or formal complaint process, and that a third-party review of the complaints conducted in June of last year found no concerns regarding harassment in his office.

“I am very proud of my work for Kitchener Centre, work to which I committed myself wholly, gladly, and effectively,” the statement reads in part. “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 made the painful decision to end my campaign for the 44th Parliament.”

Saini adds that he will be focusing his attention to “challenge these defamatory false accusations.”

According to Elections Canada, the deadline to take a name off a ballot was Aug. 30, so Saini will still appear as a candidate for the Kitchener Centre riding and votes for him will still count. However, he is under no obligation to continue campaigning and can announce he does not intend to hold office.

"There's no other way out other than to let the election go through," said Andrea Perrella, a political science professor at Laurier University. "If enough people vote for him then we're in a whole different situation."

LIBERAL PARTY, LEADER JUSTIN TRUDEAU RESPOND

The statement from Saini comes after the Liberal Party of Canada issued a statement regarding the matter as well.

"Yesterday, a review process was initiated after new information was directly provided ot the Liberal Party of Canada," the statement reads. "Mr. Saini will no longer be a Liberal candidate."

On Sunday at a press conference, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was asked about the situation surrounding Saini.

"There are no straightforward answers the way I'd like to. So we had a process that went through this, the allegations that were there a year ago and we were confident in our ability to move forward with Mister Saini as a candidate," said Trudeau. "New allegations came forward very recently and now Mister Saini is no longer our candidate.

"Obviously this is a far from ideal situation that we no longer have any candidate in that riding. There's going to be lots of reflections on what we could have, should have done differently, but my primary concern in this is making sure that we have a process that we can apply rigorously in every different situation."

Trudeau was also asked if they could commit to launching a third party investigation and that Saini would not be a part of the Liberal caucus if he were to still win his seat.

"The choice on what actually happens on these complaints is quite rightly on the complainants themselves, and if they don't want to pursue a further investigation or follow-ups, we still have ways of doing reviews that we will make sure are done, because absolutely we need to learn from the situation," he said. "Mister Saini will not be a member of the Liberal Party caucus regardless of what happens."

With reporting from CTV Kitchener's Heather Senoran