Freedom Party of Ontario


For immediate release


November 7, 2016 Toronto - Elections Ontario is guilty of deliberately preventing the voters of Niagara West-Glanbrook from casting a ballot in favour of one of its own residents, Mr. Geoff Peacock.  

Mr. Peacock was duly endorsed as the Freedom Party candidate on November 2, 2016.  He handed his nomination papers to the Returning Office at approximately 5:00 PM on Wednesday, November 3, approximately 21 hours before the close of nominations.  The nomination form was filled out correctly, and was duly signed by 25 eligible voters living in the riding.  All of the signatories were known to Mr. Peacock, who knew also that they all live in the riding.  Mr. Peacock had satisfied all of the requirements of the Election Act, and he had a right to run for office as a result.  No person filed any complaint to challenge any of the 25 signatures on Mr. Peacock’s nomination paper.  

However, without valid and good reason, the Returning Officer, Robert Ciarlo, communicated to Mr. Peacock the false statement that three of the signatories do not live in the riding.  In point of fact, all three signatories in question live in Beamsville, which is fully encompassed by the riding boundaries.  

Mr. Peacock’s nomination paper remained in the possession of the Returning office, with 25 valid signatures.  On the morning of Friday, November 4, 2016, over three hours prior to the 2 PM deadline set out in the Election Act for the Chief Electoral Officer to make a decision about whether or not to permit a rejection of a nomination paper, Freedom Party complained to Elections Ontario, and demonstrated that the three signatories were falsely rejected, and that there was no legal excuse for rejecting Mr. Peacock’s nomination.  Over the course of that day, Elections Ontario gave two additional, differing and shifting accounts of what happened and why the signatures were rejected by the Returning Officer, none of which withstood even mild scrutiny.  For that reason, Elections Ontario’s Sara McMillen advised Mr. McKeever that she was “escalating" the issue.

On Saturday, November 5, 2016, Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever received a call from Jonathan Batty, who  is Director of Compliance and General Counsel at Elections Ontario.  It is most noteworthy that Mr. Batty asked Mr. McKeever what “remedy" Freedom Party was seeking.  Mr. McKeever told Mr. Batty that Freedom Party wanted Mr. Peacock's name on the ballot.  Mr. Batty replied that the ballots were already being printed, and that advance voting was commencing that day.  Mr. McKeever replied that any ballots printed should be destroyed and new ballots printed.  Mr. Batty said that he would have to speak to the Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa.  Approximately one hour later,  Mr. Essensa communicated to Mr. McKeever - via telephone call from Mr. Batty - that he was no lawyer, but that he, nonetheless, was standing by the actions of Returning Officer Robert Ciarlo, and would not permit Mr. Peacock to be on the ballot.  

“In effect, Returning Officer Robert Ciarlo and Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa have taken it upon themselves to prevent voters in the November 17, 2016 Niagara West-Glanbrook by-election from voting for Freedom Party candidate Geoff Peacock”, says Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever.  “There is no rational excuse or moral justification for the conduct of Returning Officer Robert Ciarlo.  There is no rational excuse or moral justification for Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa’s decision to side with Mr. Ciarlo instead of defending the democratic rights of the voters of Niagara West-Glanbrook.

“The actions of Robert Ciarlo and Greg Essensa undermine the legitimacy of any electoral outcome in the Niagara West-Glanbrook by-election.  Their actions indisputably will change the way in which voters mark their ballots in this by-election.  By effectively prohibiting voters from voting for Mr. Peacock, Robert Ciarlo and Greg Essensa have undoubtedly swayed votes to other candidates, or have dissuaded some voters from voting.

“The attitude of Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa in this matter amounts to saying that they can and will make arbitrary decisions about which voters will be permitted to nominate candidates, and about who voters will be allowed to vote for, and if the voting public doesn’t like it, tough.  Was this corruption?  Was it plain incompetence?  I don’t know.  But this sort of banana republic election administration must be ended if Ontarians are to maintain any belief in the legitimacy of their election results, and any trust in the competence and neutrality of Elections Ontario.”

About Robert Ciarlo and Greg Essensa

Freedom Party notes that former Niagara Catholic District School Board Superintendent, Robert Ciarlo, in 2009 supported a school’s decision to send a student home until he changed his hair cut to a more “natural” style.  The student’s hair was short but not a brush cut, was about one inch longer on the top than on the sides, and was naturally coloured.

2009: Blessed                                               Trinity Catholic Secondary                                               School,student sent home                                               to change this hair cut to                                               something more “normal”
2009: Blessed Trinity Catholic Secondary School student sent home
to change this hair cut from this to something more “natural"

Ciarlo backed the decision to send the child home though he did not even bother to look at the student’s hair cut first, instead giving a local newspaper (Niagara This Week) the bewildering excuse that "If we don’t stand for anything, then we don’t stand for anything”.  “As with the situation of Superintendent Ciarlo effectively banning a student over his haircut without even looking at the haircut, one can only wonder if the same lack of due diligence was involved by Returning Officer Ciarlo and Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa before effectively banning voters from nominating or voting for Mr. Peacock” adds McKeever.  "Even the smallest amount of inquiry - such as doing a simple Google Maps or search, as I did, or such as searching for the names of the three excluded signatories in the list of electors - would have allowed Mr. Ciarlo and Mr. Essensa to confirm that all three of the signatories in question are eligible voters living in the riding, and that Mr. Peacock was properly nominated."

About Freedom Party and Geoff Peacock

Freedom Party of Ontario has been a registered political party in Ontario since 1984.  It is not affiliated or associated with other provincial parties of any name, and is not associated or affiliated with parties named "freedom party" in any other country.

Freedom Party of Ontario is in favour of government policy that is founded on physical evidence (not fear, fantasy, or uninformed speculation), that is logical (instead of whimsical), and that defends every individual's freedom to pursue his or her own happiness by rational means.

Geoff Peacock was the Freedom Party candidate for the riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook in the general elections of 2011 and 2014.  He works 60 hours per week.  He deserved better than the mistreatment and unfairness he received at the hands of Robert Ciarlo and Greg Essensa, and so do the people of Ontario.


For further details, contact:  Paul McKeever (party leader)



Freedom Party of Ontario

240 Commissioners Road West
London, Ontario

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