BRAMPTON: Simmer Sandhu, Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate for Brampton East, has withdrawn from the contest after allegations of customer data theft from his previous employer Ontario’s 407 Highway or 407 ETR where he worked till February.
The stolen data might have been used to recruit party members to win nominations.
Sandhu tweeted on May 16 that he was quitting after what he called “allegations anonymously made against me pertaining to both my work life and my nomination campaign.’’
Sandhu said he was quitting as “this election is too important to get caught up in the issues surrounding any one person.’’
Since 2 p.m. on Thursday was the deadline for nominations, businessman Sudesh Verma, will now be the PC candidate from Brampton East.
PC leader Doug Ford’s campaign spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said, “In light of the investigation into Simmer Sandhu, he felt it was necessary to stand down as a candidate and we accepted his resignation. We are committed to running a strong campaign in Brampton East and electing an Ontario PC MPP on June 7th. We are excited to announce Sudeep Verma as the Ontario PC Candidate in Brampton East.’’
Sandhu worked for nine year at Ontario’s 407 Highway or 407 ETR.
Since 407 ETR also operates a privately leased segment, Sandhu most recently worked as a litigation analyst in the collection department of the 407 ETR Concession Company Limited.
The company said Sandhu left his job in February.
The `anonymous’ allegations against Sandhu relate to `internal theft’ of data of 60,000 motorists – their names, addresses and phone numbers – from the records of 407 ETR Concession Company Limited.
Woodbridge-based 407 ETR Concession Company Limited, which operates a toll highway from Burlington to Pickering, said on Wednesday that it came to know about data breach last week.
The company said it is notifying 60,000 customers that names, addresses and phones of the motorists were divulged through an “internal theft’’ of their information data.
The company said it has informed police and provincial and federal authorities about data breach.
There is speculation that that the stolen data might have been used to recruit party membership by PC candidates to win nominations.
According to a report in National Post newspaper, the stolen information was reportedly at one point in the hands of a company called D-Media. D-Media is linked to Snover Dhillon who reportedly helped several PC candidates recruit members as part of their drive to win nominations.
Snover Dhillon was very close to ousted PC leader Patrick Brown.
When Doug Ford took over the PC leadership in March, he overturned many nominations made under Patrick Brown.
Simmar Dhillon said he would defend his reputation `vigorously’, adding that he knew nothing about the data theft from the company where he worked till February.
“When we do the campaigns, in the nominations, sometimes people, candidates, give the data, but I don’t know where it came from. We don’t know where they got it from,’’ Sandhiu said on Wednesday.
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother Gurratan Singh is the Ontario NDP candidate from Brampton East.