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Liberal candidate Raj Saini ends campaign amid harassment allegations

Last Updated Sep 4, 2021 at 8:21 pm EDT

Liberal incumbent Raj Saini is seen opening his campaign office in the riding of Kitchener Centre. TWITTER/Raj Saini

Liberal MP Raj Saini says he is ending his re-election campaign amid allegations he behaved inappropriately towards female staff members.

In a statement released Saturday the candidate for Kitchener Centre once again denied accusations against him, calling them “unequivocally false.” But Saini said given that the claims have been reported “uncritically and at face value” and are now being referenced by “other prominent individuals,” continuing on with the campaign is no longer in the best interest of his family, staff and constituents.

“For everyone’s health and safety I have taken the painful decision to end my campaign for the 44th Parliament.”

In the statement, Saini references an August 31 report accusing him of inappropriate behaviour with female staff members. This past week the CBC reported four separate instances of Saini allegedly making unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments toward Liberal staffers during his six years in office.

Saini says he was only ever made aware of one allegation regarding his office but the individual chose not to pursue a formal or informal complaint. He added that a third-party review by the House of Commons found that “nothing arose regarding concerns of harassment in the office.”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau had ruled out any further probe into Saini’s conduct on Friday, saying the existing process for assessing such allegations was strong and rigorous.

The Liberals have come under pressure from the Conservatives and NDP over their decision to allow Saini to seek office for a third time.

Saini says he will now turn his attention and efforts to challenge the “defamatory false accusations” which may include pursuing legal options.

Despite his decision to stop campaigning, Saini’s name will remain on the ballot as the deadline has already passed to deregister with Elections Canada.

The following is Saini’s full statement:

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report