Liberal candidate Raj Saini ends campaign for re-election

Raj Saini, the Liberal candidate for Kitchener Centre, is ending his campaign for re-election, after a series of allegations of unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments were made public this week.

In a statement released Saturday, Saini denied all the allegations as “unequivocally false” but said he would be withdrawing his candidacy.

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

CBC News reported the allegations after hearing from seven sources with knowledge of the claims about four different instances of Saini’s allegedly making unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments toward Liberal staffers during his six years in office.

CBC News agreed not to identify the sources with direct knowledge of the allegations because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter or were concerned about career reprisals.

Saini denied on Tuesday ever acting inappropriately. He said an “independent third-party review” of his office conducted through the House of Commons last summer cleared him of harassment allegations.

Several sources said four female staffers reported to a senior Liberal that Saini was acting inappropriately toward them, including “touching” or being “handsy,” during a Liberal holiday party in 2015. Other sources said one staffer was uncomfortable with Saini following her around at later events, and another about being called into the office late at night.

Another involved a former senior staffer who wrote to Saini to say she was going to take her own life in his office by overdosing on pills in March 2020, according to a written complaint to the human rights commission. She said Saini alerted mental health services, and paramedics were sent to his office to attend to her. She was admitted to hospital. She said Saini put his hand on her thigh several times during car trips.

The staffer sent a series of text messages and emails to Saini demanding an apology or else threatening to sue, file an HR complaint or go public with her claims if Saini did not apologize, according to a letter written by a House of Commons lawyer. Saini contacted the House of Commons’ legal team and police, who warned the senior staffer, who was on sick leave after the suicide attempt, to stop contacting Saini.

More to come.