Police were called to a North Edmonton home Saturday evening after a physical altercation between the homeowner and a Progressive Conservative candidate.
Precisely what happened, however, isn’t clear.
Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk was door-knocking in his north Edmonton riding Saturday when he says he was pushed and hit by a homeowner with no warning. But the homeowner told reporters he shoved Mr. Lukaszuk after ordering him off his property.
“I grabbed him by the sweater and turned him around and started pushing him off my property,” Al Michalchuk, a supporter of the Wildrose Party, told CTV. “And he still, he would turn around and he wouldn’t leave.” Security camera footage on the CTV Edmonton website shows Mr. Lukaszuk on the property and Mr. Michalchuk opening the door, but little else.
Mr. Michalchuk is 67-years-old, telling the CBC he has asthma and that he “couldn’t punch my way out of a wet paper bag.”
Mr. Lukaszuk, however, cited a different series of events, corroborated by a campaign volunteer. He said the man shoved him and hit him with an open hand, striking his shoulder and chest, soon after opening the door. The man threatened to kick Mr. Lukaszuk in the groin and used an expletive in demanding him off his property, the PC candidate claimed.
“So I walk off. And I’m walking off and sort of backing up and asking ‘what's wrong with you?’ He keeps saying, ‘this is my property, get off my property, I can use any force I need to get you off my property.’ He kept talking about his property,” Mr. Lukaszuk said.
Property rights are a major part of the campaign. Since the previous election, the PCs have passed – and then revised – a series of laws around land use. Wildrose and an outspoken Edmonton-area land-use lawyer say they heavily infringe on property rights; other observers, such as law professors and the PCs, have said that’s not the case. It nonetheless remains a hot-button issue.
Mr. Lukaszuk wasn’t injured and returned to door-knocking later Saturday, but called the police from outside Mr. Michalchuk's home.
The issue was thrust to headlines after the PC camp swiftly reported the assault online through Twitter. “Not sure [why it was tweeted] … It had political underpinnings, because he had a Wildrose sign and all he wanted to talk about was his property … but to me, it’s all about violence,” Mr. Lukaszuk said.
Other parties chimed in to offer their support.
“Hope he’s OK. This should never happen,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said on Twitter.
There was no immediate word from police about whether they’ll lay charges. The homeowner has several video cameras.
It’s not the first time Mr. Lukaszuk has called the police after a run-in. Late last year, he was pulled over by young adults as a prank – they had fake police lights, and took off after pulling him over. Mr. Lukaszuk pursued them, boxed them in and called the RCMP.