Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington withdrawing from provincial election

Audrey Festeryga. (Source Audrey Festeryga/Facebook)

The Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington is withdrawing from the provincial election.

Audrey Festeryga issued a statement on Thursday, outlining the reasons for her decision “to protect my family and my name.”

On Wednesday, the outgoing NDP MP for Essex, Taras Natyshak, was calling for the removal of Festeryga.

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.

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

Here’s the full statement from Festeryga:

“It’s sad to see what’s become of the NDP under Andrea Horwath.

Two weeks ago, I stepped forward to become the Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent Leamington because I believe in these communities, and I believe more women need to put their names on ballots. I, like many of you, was also outraged at the tactics of the local NDP in digging up and disseminating social media posts made by the previous candidate when he was a child.

I have been a Liberal candidate in this area in three Federal Elections. In this provincial election, Elections Ontario has verified my candidacy. No other candidates have raised any concerns about my nomination. The desperate actions of the NDP and the McGregor campaign did not arise from any pure-hearted motivation, but rather a continued attempt to stop the voters from casting a ballot for the Liberals.

But I simply cannot allow any further mudslinging to deflect from the issues of importance: affordability, safety & security, and the environment.

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.

I have filed the proper paperwork with Election Ontario to execute this withdrawal.

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.

I encourage everyone to get out and vote for the candidate of your choice on June 2nd. I’m sad Chatham-Kent Leamington won’t be able to vote Liberal this time around.”