UPDATE: More signature fraud allegations in CKL riding
The Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) is reporting more signature fraud allegations against new Chatham-Kent-Leamington Liberal candidate Audrey Festeryga.
The NDP held a news conference on Wednesday morning, saying four people in total have come forward to report they did not sign Festeryga’s nomination papers.
Former Essex NDP MPP Taras Natyshak claims the party has confirmation from an Elections Ontario worker in Chatham that a mistake was made in accepting Festeryga’s registration papers.
“Someone on the ground in Chatham that would have received those papers from the Festeryga campaign and they quite clearly, after reviewing them, stated that they should not have accepted them in the first place,” said Natyshak.
Natyshak is asking Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca to pull Festeryga from the June ballot or that Festeryga recuse herself from the race because the Liberals failed to properly register her.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Ontario Liberal Party maintained its previous statement about Festeryga still stands.
“Our lawyers have looked into the NDP complaint and we are confident the nomination of our candidate Audrey Festeryga is perfectly valid. I understand that Elections Ontario approved the candidacy and issued a Certificate of Nomination to our candidate. Further questions should be directed to Elections Ontario,” said Ontario Liberal Party Press Secretary Andrea Ernesaks.
The NDP received a letter from Elections Ontario on Friday confirming it is investigating the alleged fraud and Natyshak said it’s up to Elections Ontario to call the remaining 26 signatures on the 30 name Festeryga list to confirm if they still support her. The minimum to register is 25 signatures and Natyshak said if Festeryga can’t meet those rules she shouldn’t be eligible to run.
“I’ve been a candidate many times as folks know and it wasn’t that hard to accumulate 25 signatures. In fact, we tried to accumulate as many as we could, hundreds just in case there were some errors on them,” Natyshak said. “The Liberals have been trying to brush this off as not a big issue, but it hits right at the heart of the integrity of the democratic process of our elections and I can’t imagine a more important issue,” he said.
It’s alleged signatures that were collected for the nomination of former Liberal candidate Alec Mazurek were used again in Festeryga’s nomination papers. That would be in violation of election law.
After visiting the Elections Ontario office in Chatham, CK News Today has confirmed the signatures on the forms are dated May 11, 2022, a day before the Liberals tried to nominate Festeryga.
The Ontario election is June 2, 2022.