A former local Liberal candidate who ran in the last provincial election could soon be facing a criminal investigation.
According to a letter obtained by CKXS News, Elections Ontario alleges that Audrey Festeryga, who was the provincial Liberal candidate for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, violated Ontario election law by providing false or misleading information to a returning officer.
“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,” said Kevin Thomas, Election Ontario’s manager of compliance and enforcement, in the letter.
During the campaign period ahead of the June 2 provincial election, the New Democratic Party levelled accusations that Festeryga had filed fraudulent documentation when submitting her nomination papers. The NDP said its members had reviewed her nomination forms at the Elections Ontario returning office in Chatham and allegedly found the 25 elector signatures needed to submit a nomination were collected by a former Liberal candidate in the riding.
According to the Election Act, the 25 elector signatures needed to submit a nomination must be for the specified candidate.
Despite denying the allegations, Festeryga withdrew from the race with just under two weeks before election day, citing a need to protect her family and her name.
The case involving Festeryga has now been reported to the Ministry of the Attorney General.
“Once the Chief Electoral Officer reports an apparent contravention, it may be investigated by a police service and, with the consent of the Chief Electoral Officer, prosecuted by the Crown,” Thomas said.
The penalty for a violation of section 95 of the Election Act is a fine of not more than $5,000.
CKXS News has attempted to contact Festeryga for comment, however, she could not be reached prior to publication.