NDP renews calls for removal of Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington

Audrey Festeryga. (Source Audrey Festeryga/Facebook)

The outgoing NDP MP for Essex is now calling for the removal of Audrey Festeryga as the Ontario Liberal Party's provincial election candidate. 

“The Liberals need to own up to what they know they’ve done here,” Taras Natyshak said Wednesday during a virtual news conference.

The issue first came to light on May 18, when the NDP sent a letter to Elections Ontario asking for a full investigation into the signatures Festeryga used for her candidacy paperwork.

Natyshak said four constituents have “come forward” to the NDP, to say they did not intend to support Festeryga as the candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.

Rather, the NDP said the residents told them their support was for previous candidate Alec Mazurek.

Mazurek was removed by the Liberal Party after it was revealed he had posted homophobic slurs on social media eight years ago.

In order to run for political office, a candidate must collect 25 signatures as part of their candidacy paperwork.

CTV News has reviewed the 30 signatures submitted by Festeryga. They are from constituents in Tilbury, Merlin, Blenheim and Leamington. All were witnessed by former candidate Alec Mazurek.

In a brief statement provided May 18, a media spokesperson for the Ontario Liberal Party told CTV News Festeryga’s paperwork was all valid.

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was asked about the allegations Wednesday during a campaign stop in the GTA.

“I want to let Elections Ontario do the job that they're supposed to be doing. They'll do their work,” said Del Duca. “I suspect Miss Horwath will continue to do what she's done for a year now, which is not to take the fight to Doug Ford, but to spend almost all of her time attacking me and attacking Ontario Liberals.”

Festeryga did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the NDP, Elections Ontario is now investigating the situation, but that has not been independently verified by CTV News.

Natyshak tells CTV News an Elections Ontario official “on the ground” in Chatham-Kent-Leamington admitted Festeryga’s paperwork should not have been accepted.

“This is not the time to delay,” Natyshak said, noting advanced polls are already open.

In an emailed statement to CTV News, Elections Ontario said it does not comment on its internal processes and "does not comment on whether or not it has received a complaint or whether or not it is investigating a matter. whether or not it has received a complaint or whether or not it is investigating a matter."