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Last-Minute Liberal Candidate Resigns Amid Nomination Controversy

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A beleaguered Liberal candidate from southwestern Ontario dropped out of the race, the NDP ripped a page out of the latest Conservative playbook and the Greens focused their attention on two key ridings with the Ontario election a week away.

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Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said Thursday that his party’s Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate, Audrey Festeryga, has withdrawn from the race for the June 2 vote amid NDP allegations that the Grits used nomination signatures aimed at their turfed candidate to get Festeryga on the ballot at the last minute.

The NDP alleges the Liberals attempted to transfer signatures to Festeryga intended for Alec Mazurek, the Liberal candidate who was the victim of anti-gay comments hours before the nomination deadline, contrary to Elections Ontario rules.

Candidates must have the signatures of at least 25 constituency voters to be nominated.

The withdrawal means the Liberals, who have struggled to find candidates in parts of Ontario, will have no potential MPs behind their candidate’s name on the ballot.

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During a campaign stop in Toronto, Del Duca accused the NDP of murdering Festeryga’s character and said such relentless political attacks are a reason why “strong women” in Ontario choose not to stand up. stand for election.

“Audrey chose to do this (withdraw from the race) after days and days of despicable personal attacks on her,” he said, avoiding the question of whether the party tried to transfer signatures from one candidate to another.

Elections Ontario is investigating the NDP’s allegation.

The Green Party of Ontario is targeting another riding without a Liberal candidate, Parry Sound-Muskoka, where the Grits dropped their candidate for his past views on homosexuality.

Greens leader Mike Schreiner and Parry Sound-Muskoka candidate Matt Richter won the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, the first time the union has endorsed the Greens.

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“I’m thrilled to say the Ontario Greens have tremendous momentum in Parry Sound-Muskoka,” said Schreiner, who spent the day campaigning in his home riding of Guelph.

Earlier this week the Greens announced a targeted plan for the region, hoping to boost their seat count at Queen’s Park after winning their first and only seat in 2018.

The NDP took inspiration from PC Leader Doug Ford’s latest campaign book in Brampton, pledging to end so-called hallway health care in Ontario.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said a New Democrat government would hire thousands of health care workers and provide home care and mental health supports to reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

“Brampton needs more hospitals and more emergency rooms,” Horwath said.

“We can make sure people get the quality care they need right here in Brampton and across the province.

Ending hallway medicine, the practice of treating patients in hospital hallways due to a lack of bed capacity, was a key campaign wish for Ford during the last election.

Ford made no political announcements or took questions from reporters on Thursday and was scheduled to attend an evening rally in Hamilton, an NDP stronghold.

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