Local Liberal candidate withdraws

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Chatham-Kent–Leamington (CKL) voters can forget a name on the ballot for the June 2 provincial election – Audrey Festeryga.

Audrey Festeryga

The Liberal candidate withdrew from the election on May 26, a week before the election, as Elections Ontario investigated the circumstances around how her nomination papers were filed.

The NDP claimed the Liberals used the same nomination list of names as they had submitted for their first candidate, Alec Mazurek, whom the party fired after learning of homophobic comments he made on social media eight years ago.

Mazurek was fired at the proverbial 11th hour, and the Ontario Liberal Party submitted Festeryga as a candidate just before the nomination deadline on May 12.

Four people came forward to the NDP to state they did not sign the nomination papers for the Liberal candidate for CKL, according to the NDP.

Festeryga issued a comment to the media, and said Elections Ontario verified her candidacy, but she still opted to step aside.

“I simply cannot allow any further mudslinging to deflect from the issues of importance: affordability, safety a security, and the environment,” she said. “Due to the NDP’s relentless personal attacks, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw as the Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent–Leamington, in order to protect my family and my name. This decision was also made based on my personal sense of morals and ethics.”

The NDP began questioning the nomination papers shortly after the nomination period ended. Local candidate Brock McGregor said his team reviewed the nomination papers and found inconsistencies.

Then Taras Natyshak, former NDP MPP for Essex, held a press conference via Zoom on May 25 to urge Liberal leader Steven Del Duca to have Festeryga step down.

“Our team has confirmed with four individuals that they did not sign any forms for Ms. Festeryga,” he said. “These are four individuals who signed the original nomination forms (for Mazurek) who came forward to us.”

The Chatham Voice spoke to one individual, Mike Brown, who said he did not sign Festeryga’s nomination papers, but his name was used in the filing.

A day later, Festeryga withdrew, and it was NDP leader Andrea Horwath answering questions from the media.

Horwath defended the decision to file the complaint with Elections Ontario, dropping the blame squarely at Del Duca’s feet.

“When people decide to cheat, everyone loses,” she said over a Zoom chat with media. “He has to stand up, admit he’s made a mistake and try to do better next time.”

Horwath added it was Del Duca and the election team that put Festeryga in a very tough position.

“The Liberal party knows what the rules are. They’re supposed to follow the rules like the rest of us,” she said.

Festeryga said she was unimpressed by the NDP, at the leadership level and at the CKL level.

“I think this behaviour by the NDP is the worst kind of politics, and frankly, attacks like the those launched by men like Taras Natyshak are exactly the reason why more women choose not to run for elected office,” she said. “I encourage everyone to get out and vote for the candidate of your choice on June 2. I’m sad Chatham-Kent Leamington won’t be able to vote Liberal this time around.”

Comments

comments

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  1. Points you have attempted to put forward in this article are incomplete and inaccurate. I would suggest that you have also not commented on central issues to this affair

    It was the NDP and McGregor campaign that dug up and disseminated the Facebook posts made by the previous OLP candidate when he was a minor aged 15. It was the conduct of the McGregor campaign that caused the first or previous candidate to withdraw. He was not fired.

    Clearly, using social media posts made by young candidates in the manner of the McGregor campaign will discourage younger candidates. I was 15 in 1971. The was no social media to record my thoughts or comments when I was 15. It may be interesting to review the social media posts and comments of McGregor when he was 15?

    There are then the statements ascribed to the NDP tough guy from Essex brought in to attack Audrey and support McGregor These statements were embellished and confirmed by McGregor’s campaign manager. Both claim an unnamed Elections Ontario official “on the ground” in Chatham-Kent-Leamington told McGregor’s campaign manager that Elections Ontario now think that Audrey’s nomination papers should never even been accepted. Audrey and I have both spoken to Guy Taylor the Retuning Officer in CKL and Mr. Taylor stated that the alleged statement never occurred. Mr. Taylor confirmed that to make such a statement was a violation of the Elections Act. Mr. Taylor agreed that the purpose of suggesting such a false statement by the NDP would be, obviously, to attack the reputation of the Liberal candidate and suppress her vote. Finally, Mr.Taylor volunteered that he has never known an incident in the past of a parties candidate being challenged in this manner by an opposite party.

    The realization that the McGregor campaign would stoop to any level of gutter politics contributed to Audrey’s tough decision to withdraw.

    There should be no doubt in anyones mind that the NDP did not undertake this attack for any high minded reason or in the public interest. The intent of the NDP, from the first candidate to now, was to eliminate a Liberal candidate at any cost. The reasoning, clearly, was to attempt to take advantage of not splitting the “progressive” vote at a time the “conservative “ vote is potentially split.

    The NDP and McGregor self interested attack on both of the Liberal candidates is disgraceful and an assault on democracy itself.

    It is my hope that for the reasons set out above alone McGregor is not elected.

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