NDP seeks to have Liberal candidate ousted in Chatham-Kent-Leamington

The New Democrats are asking Elections Ontario to investigate the authenticity of signatures Audrey Festeryga used to file her paperwork to run in the provincial election.

“We think that there's some inconsistencies there,” said Brock McGregor, the NDP candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington. “When we contacted one of the names (on the signature list) they confirmed to us they didn't sign the forms for that candidate.”

McGregor says the elector told them their signature was in support of Alec Mazurek, the initial Liberal candidate in the riding.

In a letter to Elections Ontario, the NDP lays out a timeline between when the Liberal party dropped Mazurek and when Festeryga submitted her paperwork.

According to the NDP, on the morning of May 12, the Liberal party removed Alec Mazurek as a candidate and Festeryga submitted 25 signatures for her candidacy early the same afternoon.

The signatures are for voters across Chatham, Tilbury and Leamington.

“In light of the timelines and locations of the provided signatures, it would have been physically impossible for Ms. Festeryga to collect these signatures within hours,” Akousa Matthews, legal counsel for Ontario’s New Democratic Party, wrote.

“They're not putting an effort down here,” said McGregor. “We don't think they understand how desperate people in our community are for good representation and an opportunity to remove the conservatives from power.”

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca was asked Wednesday about the allegation during a campaign stop in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

“I'm disappointed to hear that Miss Horwath and her team want to continue to focus on attacking me and Ontario Liberals, instead of trying to take the fight to Doug Ford,” said Del Duca.

Even when asked a second time, if Festeryga used old signatures, Del Duca avoided answering the question.

“I'm not going to stand here and engage in this petty back-and-forth with Andrea Horwath and her team,” Del Duca said.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Festergya told CTV News she was unaware of the allegation. A spokesperson for her team says they are confident her application is “perfectly valid.”

Elections Ontario will not confirm if they received a complaint or if they are investigating.