UPDATE: Liberals fire Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate after NDP reveals he used slur on Facebook

News May 13, 2022 by Rob Ferguson ,  Kristin Rushowy, and Robert Benzie Toronto Star

Turmoil over the past indiscretions of politicians — both rookies and veterans — dominated Ontario’s campaign trail Thursday at the deadline for nominating candidates.

The Liberals fired a third candidate in as many days after New Democrats revealed he used an F-word gay slur on Facebook, raising questions about the vetting process for would-be MPPs in the June 2 election.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington hopeful Alec Mazurek was dumped 30 minutes after Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was caught off-guard by the details at a Scarborough news conference on his mental health plan Thursday.

“Mr. Mazurek has officially been terminated,” Liberal press secretary Andrea Ernesaks said in a statement.

Mazurek later went on Facebook to say he made the comments eight years ago, at age 15.

“They were unacceptable then and unacceptable now, and are not reflective of the values that I hold and champion today … I apologize unequivocally,” he wrote.

“We’re holding a child to the same standards as the adult writing this today.”

The firing came as Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford faced the media for the first time to address his education minister’s university-era appearance in a “slave auction” and Tory MPPs who took cash top-ups from their riding associations. Meanwhile, New Democrats were the subject of a PC complaint on potential election financing violations.

Del Duca said “irresponsible” and “reckless” comments from candidates would not be tolerated.

“That is not what we stand for,” said Del Duca, a former transportation minister who is trying to lead the Liberals back from their crushing defeat in the Ford sweep of 2018.

New Democrats released a screen grab of Mazurek’s offending Facebook post, and another that used the word “bitches.”

While the danger of not thoroughly vetting candidates is that a party’s campaign can be damaged and its key messages to voters derailed, firing three candidates so rapidly is rare.

“Parties should put exactly the same research into candidates for long-shot ridings as they do into ridings where they’re competitive,” one veteran political strategist told the Star, speaking confidentially.

Ideally, vetting teams pore over the social media accounts of potential candidates to find any indiscretions, and have them fill out lengthy questionnaires to expose any potential skeletons or political liabilities. The question of how far back in time to check social media posts, however, is a judgment call.

Mazurek’s firing followed Wednesday’s axing of Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberal candidate Barry Stanley, a retired teacher who published a baseless theory on the cause of homosexuality. As first revealed by the Star, Stanley wrote about it in a 2009 self-published book and did not flag it for the Liberals in the vetting process, which included an interview.

Mazurek and Stanley faced long-odds ridings that have been Conservative strongholds. On Tuesday, Liberals also dumped 18-year-old Aidan Kallioinen as their candidate in Sault Ste. Marie.

The controversies presented a challenge for the Liberals as the clock ticked to Thursday’s 2 p.m. Elections Ontario deadline for nominating candidates. The party will have candidates in 122 of Ontario’s 124 ridings, with the exceptions of Parry Sound-Muskoka and Timmins, a spokesperson said.

The PCs and NDP told the Star they are running full slates, as are the Greens, whose candidate in Davenport quit but was replaced in time.

In Kitchener, Ford defended PC candidates including Stephen Lecce, his education minister. Lecce has apologized for participating in a fraternity “slave auction” while a student at Western University in 2006.

“He’s acknowledged that it was inappropriate and he’s apologized for attending this event as a teenager. Mr. Lecce has been a strong advocate of combating racism in schools and he has my full support,” said Ford.

“This is something he did when he was 19 years old and in university. But let me tell you something about Stephen Lecce … he’s passionate about fighting for marginalized communities.”

Ford was far less empathetic when asked about revelations that some Tory MPPs — including Lisa MacLeod, his tourism minister — supplemented their six-figure salaries with riding association funds.

“I wasn’t too happy when I when I found out about this,” he fumed in the wake of reports that MacLeod, who earns $165,851, received $44,000 from her Nepean PC riding association between 2018 and 2020. At least seven other Tory MPPs also got payments from their riding associations.

“I’ve been assured that all rules were followed, the expenses are independently audited, they’re reviewed and approved by Elections (Ontario),” he said.

But Ford added he wants to meet with other parties after the election “to take a good, hard look at these rules and tighten them up.”

Also Thursday, Ontario PC Party president Brian Patterson sent a letter of complaint to Elections Ontario over two videos related to the NDP on potential campaign financing violations.

The NDP, however, said its chief financial officer for the Kingston and the Islands riding, David Kerr, was laughing and clearly joking when he was caught on video saying that donors to the party must live in Ontario but “supporters who live outside the province in the past have found creative ways to be supportive, and I shall leave it at that.”

Patterson disagreed with the NDP campaign’s interpretation.

“Not only does it raise a number of questions, but the casual nature in which the provincial chief financial officer for the NDP in the Kingston and the Islands Riding Association brings up the concept of ‘circumventing’ is concerning.”

In another video, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union said the union would donate $1,000 to University-Rosedale NDP incumbent Jessica Bell — which is not allowed under campaign finance legislation prohibiting corporate or union donations.

“The NDP follows every Elections Ontario rule,” the party’s campaign office said in a statement, calling the Tory objection a “nuisance complaint” and saying the donation was from the union president personally.

“We have not accepted any donations from corporations or unions.”

UPDATE: Liberals fire Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate after NDP reveals he used slur on Facebook

Steven Del Duca had pledged to drop Alec Mazurek if the revelations were true.

News May 13, 2022 by Rob Ferguson ,  Kristin Rushowy, and Robert Benzie Toronto Star

Turmoil over the past indiscretions of politicians — both rookies and veterans — dominated Ontario’s campaign trail Thursday at the deadline for nominating candidates.

The Liberals fired a third candidate in as many days after New Democrats revealed he used an F-word gay slur on Facebook, raising questions about the vetting process for would-be MPPs in the June 2 election.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington hopeful Alec Mazurek was dumped 30 minutes after Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was caught off-guard by the details at a Scarborough news conference on his mental health plan Thursday.

“Mr. Mazurek has officially been terminated,” Liberal press secretary Andrea Ernesaks said in a statement.

Related Content

Mazurek later went on Facebook to say he made the comments eight years ago, at age 15.

“They were unacceptable then and unacceptable now, and are not reflective of the values that I hold and champion today … I apologize unequivocally,” he wrote.

“We’re holding a child to the same standards as the adult writing this today.”

The firing came as Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford faced the media for the first time to address his education minister’s university-era appearance in a “slave auction” and Tory MPPs who took cash top-ups from their riding associations. Meanwhile, New Democrats were the subject of a PC complaint on potential election financing violations.

Del Duca said “irresponsible” and “reckless” comments from candidates would not be tolerated.

“That is not what we stand for,” said Del Duca, a former transportation minister who is trying to lead the Liberals back from their crushing defeat in the Ford sweep of 2018.

New Democrats released a screen grab of Mazurek’s offending Facebook post, and another that used the word “bitches.”

While the danger of not thoroughly vetting candidates is that a party’s campaign can be damaged and its key messages to voters derailed, firing three candidates so rapidly is rare.

“Parties should put exactly the same research into candidates for long-shot ridings as they do into ridings where they’re competitive,” one veteran political strategist told the Star, speaking confidentially.

Ideally, vetting teams pore over the social media accounts of potential candidates to find any indiscretions, and have them fill out lengthy questionnaires to expose any potential skeletons or political liabilities. The question of how far back in time to check social media posts, however, is a judgment call.

Mazurek’s firing followed Wednesday’s axing of Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberal candidate Barry Stanley, a retired teacher who published a baseless theory on the cause of homosexuality. As first revealed by the Star, Stanley wrote about it in a 2009 self-published book and did not flag it for the Liberals in the vetting process, which included an interview.

Mazurek and Stanley faced long-odds ridings that have been Conservative strongholds. On Tuesday, Liberals also dumped 18-year-old Aidan Kallioinen as their candidate in Sault Ste. Marie.

The controversies presented a challenge for the Liberals as the clock ticked to Thursday’s 2 p.m. Elections Ontario deadline for nominating candidates. The party will have candidates in 122 of Ontario’s 124 ridings, with the exceptions of Parry Sound-Muskoka and Timmins, a spokesperson said.

The PCs and NDP told the Star they are running full slates, as are the Greens, whose candidate in Davenport quit but was replaced in time.

In Kitchener, Ford defended PC candidates including Stephen Lecce, his education minister. Lecce has apologized for participating in a fraternity “slave auction” while a student at Western University in 2006.

“He’s acknowledged that it was inappropriate and he’s apologized for attending this event as a teenager. Mr. Lecce has been a strong advocate of combating racism in schools and he has my full support,” said Ford.

“This is something he did when he was 19 years old and in university. But let me tell you something about Stephen Lecce … he’s passionate about fighting for marginalized communities.”

Ford was far less empathetic when asked about revelations that some Tory MPPs — including Lisa MacLeod, his tourism minister — supplemented their six-figure salaries with riding association funds.

“I wasn’t too happy when I when I found out about this,” he fumed in the wake of reports that MacLeod, who earns $165,851, received $44,000 from her Nepean PC riding association between 2018 and 2020. At least seven other Tory MPPs also got payments from their riding associations.

“I’ve been assured that all rules were followed, the expenses are independently audited, they’re reviewed and approved by Elections (Ontario),” he said.

But Ford added he wants to meet with other parties after the election “to take a good, hard look at these rules and tighten them up.”

Also Thursday, Ontario PC Party president Brian Patterson sent a letter of complaint to Elections Ontario over two videos related to the NDP on potential campaign financing violations.

The NDP, however, said its chief financial officer for the Kingston and the Islands riding, David Kerr, was laughing and clearly joking when he was caught on video saying that donors to the party must live in Ontario but “supporters who live outside the province in the past have found creative ways to be supportive, and I shall leave it at that.”

Patterson disagreed with the NDP campaign’s interpretation.

“Not only does it raise a number of questions, but the casual nature in which the provincial chief financial officer for the NDP in the Kingston and the Islands Riding Association brings up the concept of ‘circumventing’ is concerning.”

In another video, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union said the union would donate $1,000 to University-Rosedale NDP incumbent Jessica Bell — which is not allowed under campaign finance legislation prohibiting corporate or union donations.

“The NDP follows every Elections Ontario rule,” the party’s campaign office said in a statement, calling the Tory objection a “nuisance complaint” and saying the donation was from the union president personally.

“We have not accepted any donations from corporations or unions.”

UPDATE: Liberals fire Chatham-Kent-Leamington candidate after NDP reveals he used slur on Facebook

Steven Del Duca had pledged to drop Alec Mazurek if the revelations were true.

News May 13, 2022 by Rob Ferguson ,  Kristin Rushowy, and Robert Benzie Toronto Star

Turmoil over the past indiscretions of politicians — both rookies and veterans — dominated Ontario’s campaign trail Thursday at the deadline for nominating candidates.

The Liberals fired a third candidate in as many days after New Democrats revealed he used an F-word gay slur on Facebook, raising questions about the vetting process for would-be MPPs in the June 2 election.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington hopeful Alec Mazurek was dumped 30 minutes after Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was caught off-guard by the details at a Scarborough news conference on his mental health plan Thursday.

“Mr. Mazurek has officially been terminated,” Liberal press secretary Andrea Ernesaks said in a statement.

Related Content

Mazurek later went on Facebook to say he made the comments eight years ago, at age 15.

“They were unacceptable then and unacceptable now, and are not reflective of the values that I hold and champion today … I apologize unequivocally,” he wrote.

“We’re holding a child to the same standards as the adult writing this today.”

The firing came as Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford faced the media for the first time to address his education minister’s university-era appearance in a “slave auction” and Tory MPPs who took cash top-ups from their riding associations. Meanwhile, New Democrats were the subject of a PC complaint on potential election financing violations.

Del Duca said “irresponsible” and “reckless” comments from candidates would not be tolerated.

“That is not what we stand for,” said Del Duca, a former transportation minister who is trying to lead the Liberals back from their crushing defeat in the Ford sweep of 2018.

New Democrats released a screen grab of Mazurek’s offending Facebook post, and another that used the word “bitches.”

While the danger of not thoroughly vetting candidates is that a party’s campaign can be damaged and its key messages to voters derailed, firing three candidates so rapidly is rare.

“Parties should put exactly the same research into candidates for long-shot ridings as they do into ridings where they’re competitive,” one veteran political strategist told the Star, speaking confidentially.

Ideally, vetting teams pore over the social media accounts of potential candidates to find any indiscretions, and have them fill out lengthy questionnaires to expose any potential skeletons or political liabilities. The question of how far back in time to check social media posts, however, is a judgment call.

Mazurek’s firing followed Wednesday’s axing of Parry Sound-Muskoka Liberal candidate Barry Stanley, a retired teacher who published a baseless theory on the cause of homosexuality. As first revealed by the Star, Stanley wrote about it in a 2009 self-published book and did not flag it for the Liberals in the vetting process, which included an interview.

Mazurek and Stanley faced long-odds ridings that have been Conservative strongholds. On Tuesday, Liberals also dumped 18-year-old Aidan Kallioinen as their candidate in Sault Ste. Marie.

The controversies presented a challenge for the Liberals as the clock ticked to Thursday’s 2 p.m. Elections Ontario deadline for nominating candidates. The party will have candidates in 122 of Ontario’s 124 ridings, with the exceptions of Parry Sound-Muskoka and Timmins, a spokesperson said.

The PCs and NDP told the Star they are running full slates, as are the Greens, whose candidate in Davenport quit but was replaced in time.

In Kitchener, Ford defended PC candidates including Stephen Lecce, his education minister. Lecce has apologized for participating in a fraternity “slave auction” while a student at Western University in 2006.

“He’s acknowledged that it was inappropriate and he’s apologized for attending this event as a teenager. Mr. Lecce has been a strong advocate of combating racism in schools and he has my full support,” said Ford.

“This is something he did when he was 19 years old and in university. But let me tell you something about Stephen Lecce … he’s passionate about fighting for marginalized communities.”

Ford was far less empathetic when asked about revelations that some Tory MPPs — including Lisa MacLeod, his tourism minister — supplemented their six-figure salaries with riding association funds.

“I wasn’t too happy when I when I found out about this,” he fumed in the wake of reports that MacLeod, who earns $165,851, received $44,000 from her Nepean PC riding association between 2018 and 2020. At least seven other Tory MPPs also got payments from their riding associations.

“I’ve been assured that all rules were followed, the expenses are independently audited, they’re reviewed and approved by Elections (Ontario),” he said.

But Ford added he wants to meet with other parties after the election “to take a good, hard look at these rules and tighten them up.”

Also Thursday, Ontario PC Party president Brian Patterson sent a letter of complaint to Elections Ontario over two videos related to the NDP on potential campaign financing violations.

The NDP, however, said its chief financial officer for the Kingston and the Islands riding, David Kerr, was laughing and clearly joking when he was caught on video saying that donors to the party must live in Ontario but “supporters who live outside the province in the past have found creative ways to be supportive, and I shall leave it at that.”

Patterson disagreed with the NDP campaign’s interpretation.

“Not only does it raise a number of questions, but the casual nature in which the provincial chief financial officer for the NDP in the Kingston and the Islands Riding Association brings up the concept of ‘circumventing’ is concerning.”

In another video, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union said the union would donate $1,000 to University-Rosedale NDP incumbent Jessica Bell — which is not allowed under campaign finance legislation prohibiting corporate or union donations.

“The NDP follows every Elections Ontario rule,” the party’s campaign office said in a statement, calling the Tory objection a “nuisance complaint” and saying the donation was from the union president personally.

“We have not accepted any donations from corporations or unions.”