Liberals replace dropped Chatham-Kent Leamington election candidate

The Ontario Liberals have replaced a dropped Chatham-Kent candidate in the upcoming provincial election.

The move comes after allegations from the Ontario NDP that the liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent had made homophobic comments on social media.

On Thursday morning, Liberal Leader Stephen Del Duca said “If, in fact, the allegation is true, I can confirm that the individual will not stand as an Ontario Liberal party member.”

Within the hour Alec Mazurek was ousted.

CTV News has learned Audrey Festeryga is replacing Mazurek as the Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate.

Festeryga ran for the liberal party federally in Essex last fall.

The posts by Mazurek dated eight years ago show multiple uses of a homophobic slur and derogatory comments about women.

In a statement on social media, Mazurek issued an apology

"They were unacceptable then and unacceptable now, and are not reflective of the values that I hold and champion today .... All Ontarians deserve to have a safe community around them, and comments like those make it more difficult to earn that trust."

He notes the age of the posts.

“I was just starting high school. This is not an excuse to minimize the reason that this is an issue, but I would also like to make clear that we're holding a child to the same standards as the adult writing this statement today," said Mazurek.

Sydney Brouillard-Coyle of the Gay-Straight Alliance says the Liberals did the right thing by removing Mazurek as a candidate

"I know a lot of people in the queer or trans community have history with hearing those slurs in schools, with partners, with people on the street and everything. And it's important that people know that these slurs are not okay under any circumstance."

Brouillard-Coyle adds that those who criticize his removal as a violation of freedom of speech should not confuse that with freedom from consequence.

“Unless there's a genuine effort to reconcile, to do to the work, receiving education and recognition of the harm and obvious work of growth, then it doesn't matter if it was yesterday, if it was eight years ago, if it was 20 years ago,” says Brouillard-Coyle.

Mazurek says that's exactly what he's done.

He notes that, over the past five years he has occupied leadership roles acknowledging systemic issues that have hurt marginalized communities promoting early outreach for at-risk youth and making efforts to be an ally to the LGBTQ community.

Mazurek says he has no plans on continuing his campaign as an independent and his name will not be on the ballot June 2.

With files from CTV Windsor's Sanjay Maru.