A political pundit describes Ontario’s Liberal Party’s response to allegations of vote fraud in a hotly contested motor vehicle in southwestern Ontario as “bizarre.”
Lydia Miljan, a political science professor at the University of Windsor, said it made little sense for Liberal leader Steven Del Duca to file an NDP complaint, accusing Liberals in Chatham-Lent-Leamington of fraudulently recycling signatures for a replacement candidate’s nomination papers. misogynistic.
“It was frankly a bizarre response to say that attacks on candidates are somehow misogynistic,” she said.
The allegations came to a head on Thursday when the riding’s Liberal candidate, Leamington attorney Audrey Festeryga, withdrew from the race after several days of NDP officials reiterating allegations that election fraud was involved in her nomination papers.
“Because of the NDP’s relentless personal attacks, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw as a Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington to protect my family and my name,” Festeryga said. “This decision was also made based on my personal sense of morality and ethics.”
Del Duca criticized the NDP for its continued focus on the allegations rather than waiting for the results of an Ontario election inquiry following the complaint, calling it “an example of how strong women are in this province.” being targeted during election campaigns.
Miljan said Del Duca’s “shoot-the-messenger” response backfired immediately, especially when a female reporter about his campaign asked how the NDP complaint contained misogyny when the allegations had nothing to do with gender.
“He did it twice,” Miljan said of the liberal leader. “That answer to another woman shows that they clearly don’t have a good answer and that they are grappling with this problem very inexpertly.”
Another election observer, retired political scientist Lloyd Brown-John, agreed that Del Duca’s claim of misogyny was a “foolish response.”
“The NDP pointed out and good for the NDP,” he said. “It caused irregularities.”
At least four of the people who signed Mazurek’s original papers came forward to say their signatures had been used inappropriately for Festeryga’s nomination, Taras Natyshak, the outgoing NDP MPP for Essex, said earlier this week. Twenty-five signatures are required to accept a nomination.
However, Brown-John said he does not believe Festeryga should have withdrawn her candidacy, despite the allegations and the investigation.
After all, her name is on the ballot. She’s going to get votes,” he said.
Despite this heated dispute between the NDP and Liberal campaigns here, Miljan said she suspected Chatham-Kent-Leamington was not a ride the Liberals expected to win. Both she and Brown-John predict the riding would be a two-horse race between progressive conservative candidate Trevor Jones and Rick Nicholls, the Ontario Party candidate and former PC MPP who was expelled from that party for refusing a COVID-19 19 vaccine.
“The Liberals probably would have been in third place,” Brown-John said, despite the potential for division among right-wing voters.
Miljan said the controversy involving both Liberal candidates pointed to bigger problems for Ontario’s Liberal Party. She said the provincial Liberals, who had no official party status in Queen’s Park after being reduced to just seven seats in the 2018 election, were likely to struggle to recruit candidates in some rides.
When it comes to rebuilding a political party after such a beating, she said, “You have to have a leader who really captures the public’s imagination and connects (with them).
“Honestly, I don’t think Steven Del Duca did that.”
Despite Festeryga’s decision to withdraw, her name was already on the printed ballots for the polls on the eve and Election Day. Elections Ontario indicated in an email that a notice to voters about its withdrawal must be placed prominently on the wall behind the voting screens in all polls.
The Elections Act also requires that the Local Returns Officer informs the Deputy Returning Officers to consider all votes already cast for the candidate as rejected.