Independent MP Kevin Vuong, who previously ran for the Liberals, says he now wants to run for the Conservatives in the next election, and has asked Pierre Poilievre if he can join his caucus.

But the Tories are not considering allowing him to sit with them in Parliament, spokeswoman Sarah Fischer said Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped Vuong as a candidate just days before the September 2021 vote. The party cited Vuong's failure to disclose a withdrawn sexual assault charge before running for office, which came out in a report by the Toronto Star in 2021.

He denies the allegations that led to the charge, and called them false.

He was elected anyway, and has sat as an independent for the downtown Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York ever since.

Sitting in his Parliament Hill office on Friday, he says that while his time in the House of Commons got off to a "rough start," he thinks he has made an impact and has something to offer Poilievre's team.

"I believe that I can have more to give," said Vuong.

"That's why I'm looking to be able to be a part of a team, to be able to do that."

He pointed to his efforts to raise awareness about the plight of homeless refugees in Toronto and press the Liberals to eliminate interest on federal student loans in question period.

Independent Toronto MP Kevin Vuong wants Poilievre to let him join Conservatives. #cdnpoli #toronto

Vuong's desire to join the Conservatives does not come as a surprise to caucus members or other party insiders. He has voted alongside the Conservatives on a range of issues from economic matters to drug policy since joining the House of Commons.

"In the last year is when it really started to, I guess, accelerate in terms of folks actively saying, 'Hey, I think you should be a part of our caucus.' And I started to begin taking that very seriously as well," he said of his discussions with Conservative MPs.

Vuong made it official last November when he took out a party membership.

While his critics may say he's only interested in joining the Tories because he was dumped by the Liberals, Vuong says his background is proof of his conservative credentials.

A trained banker and a former naval reserve officer, Vuong says he comes from "pretty conservative professions."

He's also a member of both the Chinese and Vietnamese communities, both of which "are very conservative," he said.

His aspirations to join the Conservatives coincides with the party's continued favour in public opinion polls. The Tories also have several contenders hoping to run under the Conservative banner in the next election.

Vuong says he has something unique to bring to the party.

"If the Conservatives are looking for someone who can help them to connect with East Asians and the Chinese community, that's something that I can also help with," he said.

"Reality is they don't have someone of that heritage. As the youngest MP of Asian heritage, elected in the 44th parliament, I not only can help to contribute that perspective, but I also can help them to connect with those communities."

Asked whether he had spoken directly to Poilievre about his desire to join the group, Vuong said he hadn't, and that the extent of their relationship is that they sometimes cross paths outside the House.

"We say hi to one another as I think you would speak to any colleague."

The MP also said his desire to seek a Conservative nomination doesn't hinge on him joining the caucus. He informed Poilievre of his desire to seek the nomination in a Greater Toronto Area riding.

"One of the things that I think I really like about the party is they care about the grassroots," he said.

"And so my hope will be that I will have that grassroots support, and from there that grassroots support will show the party that, 'Hey, there are people within (the Greater Toronto Area) who support Kevin.'"

He didn't rule out possibly running in his current riding of Spadina-Fort York. It's a Liberal stronghold previously held by former Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, where the NDP often finish in close second.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

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