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 of Castle Downs Saturday when he was, according to the PC party, “assaulted by a constituent.” But the homeowner told reporters he shoved Mr. Lukaszuk to get him off his property.
“I grabbed him by the sweater and turned him around and started pushed 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.”
According to interviews with media outlets, 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 in the shoulder and chest soon after the opening the door, threatening to kick him in the groin. “The moment he sees my face I can tell he recognizes me,” Mr. Lukaszuk said, adding the man used an expletive in demanding him off his property, which he said had several surveillance cameras.
“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. The whole incident lasted less than a minute, probably, and that was it.”
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, and has threatened scores of ridings held by the PCs, particularly those in rural areas.
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 - namely, Alison Redford's top campaign strategist, Stephen Carter - swiftly reported the assault online through Twitter. That alerted local media, who swarmed the area to find the homeowner, Mr. Lukaszuk and police, turning a minor ordeal into a news story.
“Not sure [why it was tweeted] Well, you know, [Mr. Carter]is in the war room so I guess from their perspective everything is political. 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. “It's unfortunate, you know.”
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.
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.Report Typo/Error