POLITICS

Former Manitoba Liberal candidate cautioned after elections probe

02/20/2014 05:15 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - A former Manitoba Liberal candidate has been cautioned by the province's elections watchdog and is facing questions from his party over allegations he provided a false home address on his candidacy papers in the last election.

Commissioner of Elections Bill Bowles launched an investigation after two New Democrats accused Joe Chan of falsely saying he lived in a downtown Winnipeg apartment.

Bowles's report, obtained Thursday by The Canadian Press, said that Chan told an investigator he lived in the apartment briefly — a year after the October 2011 election — and that it belonged to a friend.

"Our investigator also interviewed the then-current occupants of the suite. One of them said that Mr. Chan had never lived in the suite but, in the opinion of the investigator, none of them would make a suitable witness if the matter were prosecuted," Bowles wrote.

"In the circumstances, I do not see any further steps that I can take in this matter except to remind Mr. Chan of the importance of providing accurate information to Elections Manitoba should he run for office again."

Chan finished a distant second in the Logan constituency in the 2011 election, well back of NDP winner Flor Marcelino. Still, with 17 per cent of the vote, Chan was one of the top performers in a Liberal campaign that saw the party garner only 7.5 per cent of the vote provincewide.

Chan could not be reached for comment Thursday. He did not return phone messages left at the restaurant he owns, on his cellphone and through social media.

Liberal officials said Thursday they were taking the matter seriously.

"We've called him in and ... we'll be sitting down with him next week," party president Robert Young said.

"If you have an elected position, you have to be held to a higher standard."

Anyone charged and convicted of providing false information under the Elections Act can face maximum penalties of a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The elections commissioner does not normally make his reports public. The report obtained by The Canadian Press, from a source who did not want to be identified, was dated Jan. 6.