Attorney General looking at Liberal signature swap allegations in CKL

Audrey Festeryga, Liberal candidate in Chatham-Kent-Leamington. Photo courtesy Audrey Festeryga 4 Essex/Facebook.

Elections Ontario says it has found evidence of fraud within the Chatham-Kent-Leamington Liberal candidate’s campaign just before the June provincial election and is referring the case to the Attorney General.

A letter sent to the Ontario NDP’s lawyer from Kevin Thomas, Elections Ontario Manager of Compliance Enforcement, dated September 21, 2022, stated “the Chief Electoral Officer has reviewed all the evidence in relation to this matter and has determined that there has been an apparent contravention of section 95 of the Election Act by Audrey Festeryga.”

Section 95 deals with providing false or misleading information to a returning officer.

The provincial New Democrats asked Elections Ontario to investigate the nomination signatures for Festeryga after she stepped in at the last minute to replace the previous candidate when he was turfed by the Ontario Liberals for using a gay slur. The NDP alleged the signatures were collected for the nomination of the original Liberal candidate and were used again in Festeryga’s nomination papers.

“The Chief Electoral Officer has therefore reported this matter to the Ministry of the Attorney General,” wrote Thomas.

The letter goes on to disclose that once the Chief Electoral Officer reports an “apparent contravention”, it may be investigated by the police and prosecuted by the Crown with the consent of the Chief Electoral Officer.

Violating section 95 of the Election Act comes with a fine of up to $5,000 upon conviction.

The Ontario Liberal Party said it’s aware of the communications from Elections Ontario on this matter and has “nothing further to contribute at this time” because the matter has been referred to the Ministry of the Attorney General.